On Spring Break 1994, a few friends and I headed west for our own version of “Manifest Destiny.” We were sophomores in college, which meant we were arrogant, adventurous, and . . . we could drive. So 3 of us piled inside my 1986 Honda Prelude (which we had affectionately nicknamed the “Silver Fox”) and we drove to Crested Butte for four days of skiing.
Somehow, the Silver Fox (a two door compact car) was chosen as one of the members of our auto caravan to the Rockies. I did not have a map of where we were going, but the 3 of us in my car simply had to keep up with the Chevy Tahoe ahead of us as we drove to Colorado. They knew the way, and in an age before GPS and smartphones, they were our only way to where we wanted to go.
As we drove along, the further west we went, the more difficult it became to keep up with the Tahoe. You see as the road grades jumped to 6% inclines, the engine inside the Silver Fox simply was not powerful enough to keep up with the 8 cylinders fueling our 4×4 lead horse. The best I could do was try to keep the taillights in view while traveling uphill! Eventually, they drove out of sight. There was simply no way for my small engine to move us fast enough far enough on such rigorous terrain. Thankfully, we just kept driving west and eventually parked next to the ski lift!
I was thinking about this today as I reflected upon Paul’s prayer and praise recorded in Ephesians 3:14-21. In these verses, Paul prays a very specific prayer for his Ephesian Christian friends. Though he mentions several things in this prayer, the primary thrust is that the Ephesians would be “strengthened with power through His Spirit in [their] inner being. (3:16).” This power would be given to Christians “according to the riches of His glory.” What it seems Paul is saying to the Ephesians (and by application to us as well) is that to accomplish the epic task of living the Christian life, and truly loving all God’s people – Jew and Gentile alike – requires a strength beyond what people would normally have “under the hood.”
It is as if Paul acknowledges that the Christian life is a 6% grade on a 4 cylinder engine . . . we simply cannot keep up with the pace Christ set on our own — we are under powered. In order to keep up in the Christian life, we need a brand new engine. The engine God provides for living out the Christian life is amazing, efficient, and with plenty of horse power to spare. The power that God gives, He gives according to His riches (which are limitless, therefore the power that He gives is limitless as well).
The implication of this prayer is that God can always provide the inner strength we need to follow Christ all the way up the mountain. Sometimes, we imagine the Christian life as something we drive on our own strength. If we get separated from Christ (so we think) we can simply keep driving upward in good works and eventually we will arrive at our eternal destination. The reality, though is that Jesus does not want us to separate from Him and live an independent life, driving in just a general direction. He does not even want us to just keep Him in a distant view on the horizon. What God has provided for us is a brand new engine of the Holy Spirit to empower us to see God do through us “infinitely, abundantly beyond all we can ask or think.”
So the next time you find yourself faced with a 6% grade, take heart! Like Paul pray for the inner strength provided by the Spirit of God to keep us connected to Christ throughout the journey.
This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, I will be preaching a sermon based on Ephesians 3:14-21 as part 6 of our “Packed” sermon series. If you are in the area, and would like to join us, we would love to see you Sunday in either our 9:30 or 10:50 worship service.
For more resources related to this study of Ephesians click on the following links:
- Packed – Series Introduction
- Eph. 1:3-14 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 1:3-14 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 1:3-14 (Study Prompts #3)
- The “In Crowd” (Devotional/Sermon Preview)
- Packed Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #1 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 1:15-23 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 1:15-23 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 1:15-23 (Study Prompts #3)
- It’s a Wonderful Christian Life (Devotional)
- Packed #2 Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #2 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 2:1-10 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 2:1-10 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 2:1-10 (Study Prompts #3)
- Unbelievable Offer (Devotional/Sermon Preview)
- Packed #3 Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #3 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 2:11-22 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 2:11-22 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 2:11-22 (Study Prompts #3)
- Uncommon Denominator (Devotional/Sermon Preview)
- Packed #4 Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #4 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 3:1-13 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 3:1-13 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 3:1-13 (Study Prompts #3)
- Tether (Devotional/Sermon Preview)
- Packed #5 Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #5 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 3:14-21 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 3:14-21 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 3:14-21 (Study Prompts #3)