Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
As I read chapter 1 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I find he uses striking superlatives to create a magnificent vision of the Christian life.
Paul says God’s grace is glorious, lavish, and freely given. We are part of his world-encompassing plan to work out everything the way he wants it. He made an expensive downpayment on our future, giving us the Holy Spirit as promise and proof we will participate in his world-changing future.
Paul says God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (not just a smattering) in the heavenly realms in Christ.
I meditate on this greatness while I wash dirty dishes. While I mow our tired lawn. While I walk the dog and pick up after him. While I scrub the car at the carwash.
My life seems very ordinary. Is it really connected to the grand vision and countless spiritual blessings Paul writes about?
Jesus didn’t live an ordinary life. His was extraordinary–healing the sick, sighting the blind, freeing captives. But Jesus-in-me doesn’t do those miracles. If he did, I’d be healthy, visionary, and free!
I think John the Baptist felt much as I do, when he was in prison and sent a message to Jesus asking, “Are you really the one who is coming?”
Like John, Paul was a common Roman prisoner when he wrote Ephesians about his grand vision. I wonder about Paul in prison. Did he lose touch with reality there, substituting spiritual fantasies about the heavenlies to escape the poverty of his life on earth?
Or did Paul live in two realities at once? Perhaps he believed God was in charge of his mediocre prison existence and his future inheritance as God’s son.
What does that say about my ordinary life? Evangelical books give me advice about closing the gap between my daily experience and my riches in Christ. Most of them say, Try harder. Try harder to believe. Try harder to love your neighbor. Make a plan to study the Bible. Limit your social media and try more prayer! Just try harder.
Methinks that’s the path to madness. Hard work might move the needle on my life from mediocre to uninspired. But what I really need is not incremental improvement but inspiration. I need something to enable me to live out Paul’s grand vision.
Our father, once again I am pained by the gap between my ordinary experience and Paul’s glorious vision of the Christian life. I am unable to close that gap. Self-improvement books and projects aren’t much help.
Perhaps it’s not about how I can up up my game and become better. Perhaps it’s not about techniques to connect me with your reality. Nor about ways to improve my spiritual perceptions and obedience.
Perhaps it’s not about me at all. Maybe it’s about Christ. Maybe you want to make him the center of everything, even my life.
O God, John found peace in prison while Jesus preached and healed and freed others. Paul found peace in prison writing about your world-changing plans and activities. Help me to find peace as I mow the lawn and do the dishes and meditate on Paul’s grand themes.
Draw me out of myself, into the new reality you are creating in Christ. Do in me your invisible work, preparing me to exchange my ordinary existence for the extraordinary reality I do not yet see.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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