Power in Helpless Places {#LentChallenge}

I’ve been living life like a passenger on a run-away train.

Our crazy factor is at an all time high. Really. Someone once said that truth is stranger than fiction. After this month, I say, “Amen.”

The crazy is still a little volatile. It’s why I haven’t posted much here recently. And that’s a bummer because I started the #LentChallenge with the hope to write a short little reflection each day. While I’ve been reading along, it’s been hard to free up the hands for writing because I’m clinging to the “oh crap” handle as the train runs faster, on and on. {Maybe someday I will be able to write about how crazy stalked us for four weeks, but for now you’ll just have to forgive my lack transparency.}

This morning I woke up completely over it. Done. So I prayed, “Lord, can we call this one a wrap? Please? Pretty please? Can we please put crazy back into the box from which it came and go back to normal?”  I’m tired from not knowing whether the train is going to careen off a cliff or if the terrifying ride is just going to slowly come to a safe stop. It’s exhausting being helpless.

I thought about skipping my #LentChallenge reading, but I knew it today’s assignment was the book of Ephesians. I figured if Paul can pen the thing from prison the least I can do is read it. {When you think about how most of the New Testament letters were written it makes our modern day excuses for not reading them super lame.}

I’m glad I pressed through the feelings of wanting to call it quits, because I saw a connection in the letter that I’ve missed in previous readings.

In chapter one, verses eighteen through twenty, the Apostle says:

So that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put his power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.

So this means: God has great power. (Duh.) Such as that cannot even be measured on human scales. (Duh.) He uses that power FOR us who believe. He put His great power to work IN Christ when, in His resurrection from the dead, God showed that the strength of our sin, the devil’s work, and the grave’s finality are no match for Him. There’s no match to His power. No contest to his strength. He wins.

We know this, right? We say we do. And when life is going all normal and as planned, we sigh a relief. But when it gets crazy and it seems that the train wreck is inevitable, we gasp and panic like the train is running away because God baled, abandoned the controls and we’re now just helpless victims to fate.

But Paul says something different about this great power of God in chapter three, verses sixteen and seventeen:

I prayer that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power THROUGH his Spirit, and the Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

So this means that the immeasurable greatness of God’s power as seen in the resurrected Christ is now IN us and by His Spirit, He strengthens us in all our helpless places. Fate is a faulty notion. God’s power was not once and done. It continues on, never depleted. The train is not running away; God’s power is still at work. He is still winning. If he needed to resurrect again, He could. That is why Paul, from Prison, is assured that a concrete cell and barred windows do not keep him from having “access to {the Immeasurably Powerful} God in boldness and confidence” (3:12). Dead, crazy, and helplessly tiring circumstances are still subject to His power.

I suppose that’s why Paul makes this crazy statements of equating God’s immeasurable power with His “immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (3:7). Paul was convinced that he had been saved by grace and he would be sustained by grace. Helpless, yes. Powerless, no. Why?

Now to him who by the power at work WITHIN us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (3:20)

Do you to have a place of helplessness? Hold on. God is working. With power. In Christ. For you. From within and without. And when you the train of circumstances comes to a rolling stop, you will see what He has been doing is better than you can imagine. You may call it grace. You may call it kindness. But whatever it is, you’ll say it looks like love and feels like power.

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, 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. (3:18-19)

I’m participating in Margaret’s #LentChallenge of reading the New Testament in forty days. Today’s reading is Ephesians. Join us!

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