Friday, September 9, 2016

Thankful in Good Times and Not So Good Times- Ephesians 3:14-21

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth." (3:14-15)

A couple of months ago I read a book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts. And while there were definitely some odd things about it, I actually got a great message from that book. You see, I have been on the hunt for the ever elusive Joy-despite-your-circumstances and I found it hiding in those pages. At least, I found the idea that led me to it. Joy begins with thankfulness. If we want our joy from Jesus, we need to start by appreciating, fully and completely appreciating, every single thing we are given in our lives.

Last night, for example, my husband had a pretty serious allergic reaction to something and ended up being rushed (by me) to the ER where he was treated and is fine today. We sat in the room with too much noise outside, not enough cell signal or battery life in our phones, and no TV to watch. Normally, I would complain about all of that. We were in the room as he was under observation for over 4 hours. We didn't get discharged until after 1am. I wasn't in bed until 2am. I was up again by 6am. Looking at all of that, I know there is a lot there to grumble about but I don't feel any of those bad feelings about it. All that I feel right now is gratitude.

Jesus gave me a parking spot when we got to the ER so that I could get inside quickly to be with my very red husband- yep, I'm one of those. I believe Jesus gave me that spot and no one can make me think otherwise. ;) Shaun and I got four mostly uninterrupted hours alone together. We got to talk a lot once he was feeling better. More importantly, he felt better so quickly after they started treatment. We got a room pretty fast. The staff was nothing but kind and supportive. There were amusing patients for us to listen to in the hallway (is it wrong that I just wrote that there?). I had several friends and family members willing to come help us out with the kids since it was going to be a late night. My awesome brother willingly stepped in, took care of my kids, and didn't complain or pressure me once.

Despite all of it, I know that we are blessed and so, I am thankful to Jesus for all of last night- the good and the bad.

"I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit." (3:16)

And he did that last night. It's funny how relevant the Bible still is when I read it. I have been reading my Bible for as long as I can remember starting with the Precious Moments Bible (pink of course) that I won for saying enough memory verses at church. And each time I find something that totally applies to my life, I am weirdly surprised by it. How can it be so very timeless? And yet, it is. Last night, I prayed for protection for Shaun and strength, wisdom, and help for us both. God delivered all of that through every little thing that happened. And I am grateful.

"Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God." (3:17-19)

It's a funny thing, trust. It goes hand in hand with love. The more I trust God, the more I experience his love. And the more I experience his love, the more I want to trust him. It's like this amazing cycle. I know I haven't come anywhere close to experiencing -or understanding maybe- the complete depth of his love in my life. I probably never will this side of heaven. But the thing that I appreciate the most about God's love? It's without conditions. He offers it to me freely and undeservedly. He gives me heaping piles of grace when I shouldn't get anymore. He just loves me. Period. And that's a wonderfully reassuring thought.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." (3:20)

Here's the thing about this verse. It points right back to yesterday for me. It's this great reminder that not only does God adore me and give me heaping amounts of grace just for being me, but he also wants to accomplish big things through me. He has a purpose and a plan for my life! And he has one for you too. Whether we see ourselves as qualified or not, deserving or not, amazing or not, God has a great plan for each of our lives.

Someone at church once said to me that we are God's plan A. There is no plan B. We are never God's second choice. We are always picked first, always loved with all he has in him, and always desired for who we are. If that doesn't give you feelings of Jesus Joy, I don't know what will. ;)

Let's end today with Paul's closing statement in chapter 3:

"Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen." (3:21)

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