Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ephesians 3:14-21

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever.  Amen."  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

I went to a women's conference in the Fall of 2010 and was very moved by this passage.  I had the sense that God was about to show me how much more He could do than I could possibly ask or imagine.

In January of 2011, my husband suffered a stroke.  I lost all of my bearings.  I knew - at times I even had the tangible sensation - that God was carrying me, sustaining me, even giving me joy in the midst of watching my husband be rendered disabled.  Within a matter of hours, he became like a palsied little child right in front of my eyes.  And somehow, I had this inexplicable joy.  And so did Al.  He really didn't fear what was happening to him.

That is what happens when you are faced with a life-threatening or life-altering situation.  We all wonder how we could make it through when faced with death or serious illness.  You don't prepare for it:  God meets you with incredible grace in the moment that you need it.

However, somehow my faith slowly eroded.  I would have moments of absolute faith and courage, but then they would slip away and leave a sickening fear.  I watched Al improve greatly during the first weeks of inpatient therapy.  This was encouraging.  But his progress slowed as he moved home and had only 2-3 sessions of therapy per week, and otherwise he was left home alone all day, every day while I resumed my full-time job.

As his recovery slowed, so did my faith.  I let fear take over.  Like Peter who was called to walk to Jesus on the water, he started out with enough faith to do the impossible.  But when he looked at the wind and the waves around him, he started to sink.  When I looked around and saw that Al's recovery had essentially stopped and we had no idea what our future was going to look like, I started to sink, too.  I sank lower than I had ever before, culminating in my infamous  nervous breakdown.  Instead of keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, I let myself be drowned in the waves of anxiety and fear.

Now, I know that losing faith isn't all my fault.  Giving in to depression isn't all my fault.  Getting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder wasn't my fault.  Having to work a full-time job that was mentally and emotionally draining wasn't my fault.  (I do assume some fault because I know I'm imperfect and that life doesn't just happen to me.  That is definitely another whole topic in and of itself.)

But it's still hard not to blame myself for falling apart.

Happily however, God always has enough grace to take me back.  Although this particular kind of sin isn't my issue at this point, I was touched by this video - that Jesus wants me, even though I'm beaten, run down and have let my faith falter. 

Matt Chandler: "Jesus Wants the Rose"

Now we're on the precipice of Easter.  When Jesus shows His absolute love for us.  And we remember the power of God that is present in our everyday life, not just on Easter.  Power to resurrect, power to give us victory amidst what seems like everyday tragedy.  Power to bring good out of something bad.  Power to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

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