Turning the Imposing into the Empowering

Numbers to Live By

We are winding towards the last three mile markers on Highway 3:16. This week we get to spend some time in God’s word with one of my true favorites in the collection. In Ephesians, Paul prays for the fledgling church, and, by extension, for you and me. He reminds us that we do not have to be self-reliant for strength for the journey. His power is not just enough, it is essential to meeting the demands of life, whatever shape they take.

I’ll give you a little preview. Take two images and hold on to them. The first is being in a hole. The second is climbing a steep hill, maybe even a mountain. One image is emerging from something, the other aspiring to something. Either way, we are not really equipped to summon the strength alone. That’s the bad news and the truth. The good news and the truth are that we don’t have to. In fact, we are better off when we realize and act upon reality.

The language of Celebrate Recovery helps us here a lot. Habits. Hang-ups. Hurts. I’ve got them, you do too. So does the person you work beside, live next to, and live with. No one is exempt. In a world that says “suck it up,” “take control,” and “look out for yourself,” Paul reminds us that those are futile formulas that, in fact, make the situation worse. But to live in the realm of survival – we all do sometimes – discounts the possibility that God wants to do something exceptional with our lives. Again, our strength is not sufficient for such lofty pursuits, let alone our capacity to discern what those things are. Again, that’s good news disguised as despair. God can and God does. That is – and needs to be – enough.

Sunday we will look deeply at Paul’s prayer and God’s promises. And we will talk about how to not just hear them, but embrace them. How not to just accept them, but to act upon them. I think you will find turning the imposing into the empowering to be a life-giving exchange. I look forward to talking about that trade-off when we come to gather to worship, and to love and encourage one another. See you then.