I’m sure when Charles Dickens penned “A Tale of Two Cities,” he had no idea how profound the first sentence of that classic novel would be. . .”Not long ago, one cold day in the fall, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times… ” Sitting, pen in hand, he wrote one sensational sentence that would linger through centuries. Oh, to write like that!
Borrowing from Mr. Dickens, I would like to bring on a Christmas challenge. We are living in such a time. It is definitely the best of times. . .and it is definitely the worst of times. Daily, the media reminds us of the severe financial crisis. The historical unemployment rate. The collapse of the housing market. The scandals of politicians whose facades are fading. The alarming images of war, terrorism, and political unrest on the stage of the world theatre.
But, according to Scripture, you and I, as Christians, live in the light of the best of times. We can be assured—even in the midst of these financially foggy days—that the best is yet to come. Over the next twelve days, I want to dissect Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV), a powerful proclamation of God’s daily provision over our lives. Consider it a Christmas gift to ourselves. And, in response, take “A Silent Second” to reflect on the passage.
Today, in prelude, read through this entire portion. In my writing classes, I am training my young writers to “READ LIKE A WRITER.” Read with your eyes wide open. Read with a pencil or highlighter in hand. Read slowly, tasting each word as if it were a delicious morsel. Notice figurative language. Notice vibrant vocabulary. Notice the voice of the author. Read between the lines. Take notes. Don’t be afraid to question. Okay, here we go. Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV):
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 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 glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
And, in The Message, Peterson writes:
“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. 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!”
A Silent Second
Prelude to The 12 Thankful Days of Christmas: Kneel before your Father in heaven and thank Him for one thing today. What one thing has he done for you this year that you are so grateful for? I am filled with gratitude today that my daughter, Candace, is living her dream in Europe. Actually, Egypt, as I write. Her email of two days ago read, “Mom, I rode a camel by the pyramids yesterday!” I wish you could have seen my face! After I confessed my utter jealousy, I quietly thanked God. I thank him for making the world stage a bit smaller in the 21st Century. Granted, it is a dangerous world stage, but as my wise mentors have told me over the years, “There is no safer place than the center of God’s will.” As pictured above, Candace enjoyed an American Thanksgiving in London this year. She even baked a pumpkin pie—which, by the way, that little can of Libby’s pumpkin cost her three pounds! So, as I kneel before God, today, I thank him for allowing us to enjoy his creation. Just as I enjoy seeing my child following her heart, her dream, her passion. . .He enjoys seeing us do the same.
“The New Testament reveals the essential nature of God to be not omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, but holiness. God became the weakest thing in His own creation, namely, a Baby; He entered human history on that line. He was so ordinary that the folks of His day paid no attention to Him, and the religious people said He was making a farce of religion” (Oswald Chambers).