A few days before the start of the New Year, during a private time of prayer, I found myself being provoked by Ephesians 3:20 which says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power which works in us.” This verse and its coinciding passage is not new for me. In fact, I’ve read it, heard it quoted, and have quoted it myself many, many times before, but this time was different. It’s difficult to explain adequately, but it came with something on it – a weightiness I couldn’t ignore even if I wanted to. It’s one of those moments where you just know that you know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that God Himself is breathing on it, and while you may not completely understand it or its significance, you know it’s worthy of and demands your full attention.
Needless to say, you don’t just “walk away from” an encounter like that. There’s a residue that remains which inherently causes deep reflection and unyielding meditation. What was He wanting me to see? How should I respond? Why was He highlighting this particular verse at this particular time? Do I keep it a secret between myself and God, or has it come for me to share with others? The more I contemplated, the clearer it became that I was living far below His standard for me……and it grieved His heart. This was the “weightiness” I felt:
His grief…that I had become satisfied with living at the borders of His promise(s) instead of actually living in His promise.
His promise is “exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think”, but I was settling for less. I was settling for being at or below the places I’ve asked and thought instead of exceedingly, abundantly above them. I was settling for success instead of excess, for just enough instead of more than enough, for an expected arrival instead of unexpected abundance. You see, at the point of this encounter, life was good for me. I wasn’t really living my dream life per se, but I also wasn’t living a nightmare life either. Compared to my existence before Christ, things were drastically different. Compared to the life He promised and wanted, things were drastically deficient. This is what grieved Him. He didn’t just want good; He wanted great. He didn’t just want better; He wanted the best.
He didn’t just want me to come out of death into life; He wanted me to move into life more abundantly.
So what was my response?
Repent of the grief I had caused Him and respectfully, yet boldly challenge Him at His place(s) of promise and ability. Although I wasn’t sure of the details, I took Ephesians 3:20 and started with the heart of it: asking and thinking. So, my dedicated prayer focus in 2019 became a relentless, no-holds-barred pursuit toward thinking big and asking bigger. As I did, God began to unveil the necessary steps I would need to take to “crossover”.
RELATED: Faithful Stewardship in One Word
First, I realized that it all hinged on the latter part of the verse: according to the power which works in us (me). The Greek word for “works” is “activated”. In other words, His ability (taken from the beginning of the verse, Now to Him who is able) to do “exceedingly, abundantly above” was/is dependent on the power activated in me. When it comes to the fulfillment of His promises, any disconnect we have is never on His end of the equation. Pastor Larry Randolph says it best,
God will always fulfill all of His promises, but He is not obligated to fulfill our potential.
What a brilliant statement. In essence, Pastor Larry and the Apostle Paul are arriving at similar conclusions: God, in His extravagant love, holds nothing back in the gift of His promises to us, but God also, in His extravagant wisdom, makes it subject to a container (our potential) that proves it can handle it. And it’s here, in our “handling”, where we find the key to unlock or activate the exceeding, abundant promised land of God.
It’s all about stewardship, and more specifically, faithful stewardship. If you’ve kept up with any of my previous posts, you can easily see faithful stewardship has been a theme I’ve not been able to get away from. Now you know why. As much as I’ve tried to venture out of redundancy and into more interesting or exciting topics of study, I am finding all roads keep leading me back to this same place. While it’s not been the most stimulating theme personally, it is turning out to be the most needed, not only for myself, but also for others. Meditate on the promises that accompany obedience (aka: faithful stewardship) listed in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. This is the elevated standard of living He has for us. Anything less is considered lack by Him and must be considered the same by us. The invitation has been extended. The inheritance has already been released. It’s ours for the taking.