Blessings Upon Blessings
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
—Ephesians 3:14-21 (Read Ephesians 3)
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul depicts a God who “is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine” through His will. For several years now, I have been blessed with steadfast faith in God’s plan. I do not worry about the future much and I strive to make myself ever available to His call. This, however, does not mean that I have not felt the brokenness of the world or even my own life. There are moments I have felt pain that made me desperate for relief; times when, at my lowest, I even prayed for God to speed up His plan, to work on my schedule.
This, one of my more audacious prayer requests, has been a source of guilt for me, as I ask, “Who am I to crack the whip on Christ” (the ironic severity of this expression is not lost on me). Yet, as I write today, I do not intend to discuss guilt, humility, or the classic ‘God’s timing is perfect’. In fact, I hope to do quite the opposite: to illuminate the blessings that come from a God who “is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine.”
Before I do this, I want you to ask yourself what your understanding of blessings is. How do you perceive a blessing? How would you define it? Hold these conceptions in your mind as you read.
Now, to finish my part of the story. Shortly after my daring prayer, parts of my life became more exciting. Suddenly, I was meeting new people, going new places, and faced with job opportunities around the world. Without going into personal details, my life was overhauled at a rather rapid pace. There is no doubt in my mind that this was the love of God.
However, what is incredible to me is that none of these were isolated experiences.
In every case, the blessings poured out on me were a direct result of profound blessings in the lives of others, and my blessings would go on to bless my community in ways that I never expected. Little did I know that my request for expediency would impact the way in which the prayers of my closest friends were answered.
The whole process was so complicated that, if delineated would look something like this ridiculous web with each marker indicating an answered prayer. A map of blessings, am I the first person to have done that? Anyways, even this is an oversimplification of blessings, granting understanding to the promise that God accomplishes things that surpass knowledge.
Remember how I asked you to think about how you understand blessings? I suppose I used to see them as part of a linear system: God blesses me this way, which leads me along His path that way, so that I can do this, etc. No, Paul writes of a God who is “reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (Read 2 Corinthians 5). His business is not merely working with the prayers of isolated individuals.
The business of the Lord is to restore the entirety of creation; His blessings overflow to change entire communities.
Our longings, our joys, our prayers are all part of such an interconnected web that God has formed like a net over the earth, along which we are being redeemed by Christ.
So, today I encourage you to rejoice in your life. Talk with those close to you about how you have been blessed. Rejoice in how the Holy Spirit has touched others through you and reflect on how we may better work for God’s salvation together.
--Kalan McDonald serves on First Year Ministry Team of Cornerstone Leadership.