Help for Our Weaknesses

It's not what you know; it's Who you know.

by Trey Graham

When I was stationed in Alexandria, Virginia, I visited many of our nation’s most sacred historical landmarks. During one of my visits to Washington, D.C., I toured the White House office complex. My escort, Captain Mark Westbrook, showed me around the various offices and agencies that work in the White House and pointed out the beautiful photographs hanging on the walls throughout the building.

These pictures show the President and his family on their official state visits and during personal trips and private moments as they traveled around the country. Photographs also depict other members of the American government in famous places throughout the world.

Captain Westbrook explained to me that these photos are displayed in the hallways of the White House for several weeks and are then replaced by newer shots. Once the pictures are taken down, some are saved and stored in the White House archives, but most are given away to people who work in the building. A photo is given to the highest-ranking person who has reserved the particular shot by writing his or her name on the back of the frame.

Higher rank

My escort stated that on many occasions, he would have loved to have been the recipient of some of these photos, many of which depict significant events in American history. Knowing that a captain will rarely outrank anyone at the White House, however, Captain Westbrook realized that he had little chance of receiving the photo gifts. Therefore, he used someone else’s name in place of his own.

You see, Westbrook worked for Colonel Samuel Raines in the White House military office. To get pictures, he wrote Colonel Raines’ name on the back of the photos. The colonel, due to his higher rank, had a much better chance of receiving the pictures. Westbrook put Raines’ name on the back hoping that Colonel Raines would agree to give these photographs to the captain and his family. In other words, Captain Westbrook claimed the authority of someone higher-ranking to accomplish one of his goals.

Claiming authority

In the same way, those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for their sins have no spiritual authority in God’s heavenly kingdom, but Christians have the distinct privilege of claiming the authority of our Savior, Jesus Christ. His name empowers His followers when we face trials and difficulties in this life, because we are “joint heirs with Christ,” as promised in Romans 8:16, 17. This passage explains that if we have accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sins, then we share with Christ the riches of almighty God.

Before I came to know Jesus as my Savior, I was a sinful outsider — someone who possessed no rank or authority, who intruded into the presence of a holy God. Today as a Christian I am a family member who is known, loved, and welcomed by God into His sacred presence.

Power to overcome

Therefore, as Christians, we do not live by our own earthly power but by God’s power that lives within us once we accept Jesus Christ’s death for our sins. This heavenly power allows us to resist the temptations of the world, because Jesus lived a sinless life. While on earth, He was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without win” (Hebrews 4:15).

Therefore, Jesus understands the difficulties and hardships we face. Our times of prayer allow us to bring our needs and concerns to a loving Father, not some oblivious celestial being. God the Father loves us and saves us through the sacrifice of God the Son. To be successful in the Christian life, we must adopt the power of Christ and admit our personal spiritual powerlessness. As the biblical writer, Paul, explained, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Just as Captain Westbrook realized that the only way he would be able to receive the White House photographs was by connecting himself to the authority of the colonel, Christians must understand that the only way to live this life victoriously — and the only way to ensure eternity in God’s presence — is to commit ourselves to Jesus Christ as Savior.