When I have allowed sleep to take priority over my morning time with Jesus for a while, I generally choose Jesus Calling by Sarah Young to help me get back into the habit of steady and committed time with Him pre-dawn. She writes the voice of Jesus so beautifully and has adequate Scriptural documentation to back up what she’s writing, so it’s a good tool for me to get myself back into a rhythm. After a while, I usually move on to some other Bible study – but Jesus always calls me back after a hiatus, which in this season, will inevitably come.
I told you yesterday about a restlessness of spirit I am experiencing. “Prickly” is what I called it. Prickly. Yes. That still seems right. It is uncomfortable. I am unsettled. I can’t shake the need to – do SOMEthing. I used to perceive this as the same feeling as discontentment but the more I get to know this one, it’s not that. It doesn’t point me to bitterness. It points me to action. With discontentment I am just waiting around expecting something to, for the love of Pete, happen TO me that will fix all of these other things I’m dealing with in my life. In restlessness, I feel this insatiable drive to MAKE something happen that has to do with life-change and love and bigger-than-me. In restlessness, I begin to get my “Bring It” back.
Ephesians 3:14-21. I stumbled across it at the beginning of last week in Jesus Calling. I could not begin to tell you what the devotional words were for that day, but that Scripture – good gravy it has not left me alone. My heart quickened and my excitement mounted as I read it over and over again. I wrote it on index cards and tattooed it on the girls heads. “This one. Think on this one. There is more here than you originally thought.” Here it is in the ESV:
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Over and over again I keep reading it. Further and further it reaches past my intelligence and into MY inner being. It is changing me. Strengthened so that we may have a faith that grounds us in the love of Jesus and allows us to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is that very love that we are grounded in. To know it beyond anything we can understand – so that we are filled with the only type of fullness that fills to the brim and spills right over – the fullness of God.
To know Jesus’ love BEYOND anything I can understand. Do you hear this speaking of experience? Of “stepping out and doing” as a part of the knowing? Look at verse 20 – it echoes of dreams, right? He can do far more than we can come up with in our wildest dreams.
For the past many years of my life, I have come to understand the love of Jesus in a deeper, truer way because life has happened. Harder things than I ever would have asked or imagined have happened to me, and I have been forced to either crawl into a hole of despair or into the lap of our Father. These experiences have changed me, and I am grateful for how God has used them to allow me to know Him better BUT I did not and would not choose them for myself or my family. I praise the Great Comforter and Maker of Everything to Good for what He has done, but I did not walk into hard on purpose.
This, though, this is different. This is God saying – Do you trust me enough to choose the challenge? To move past waiting for the next big storm and walk forward where you just might find one waiting a few feet down the road? This is the One who parcels out heaven and earth beckoning us to adventure, to experience the love of Jesus. Not just to dabble in it or wade around on the warm shore with it lapping at our feet as we gaze out at the horizon and wonder what could be. It seems to say, “Come and see. See what I can do. Don’t just read about it in books or nod passionately as you listen to others speak of it. No, dream a dream and then, one foot in front of the other, begin wading into the deep of it. What I can do, what I want to do in you and through you is far greater than anything you could imagine. So dream, yes. Dream big. But don’t stop there. Do. Act. Move. And as you do, watch your dream become more than you ever asked or imagined! I can do whatever I want.”
Ephesians 3:14-21. It’s got me all riled up, y’all. I’m sweaty-palmed and red-faced reclaiming some of the “Bring It” attitude that used to mark the essence of who I am. I am re-examining and plumbing the depths of the love that hasn’t changed since the days of the philanderer and homesickness. I am choosing to reach out and experience just how far this love stretches on each side of me.
Yes I am, girl. Yes. I. Am.
I’m also praying that you’ll do the same.
14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
Like a blank canvas. I can’t wait to tell you about the dreams that are waiting to fill it up!