Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us… Ephesians 3:20 (KJV)
I am reading a book about a group of women in Germany who responded to a call to live together in community and service just after World War II. Initially, they stayed with the parents of the founder but prayed that God would provide property, funds, and materials to build a chapel and a Mother House in the devastated remains of Darmstadt.
The book, Realities of Faith by Basilea Schlink, is astonishing as it details persevering prayer, how the women broached hindrances to their prayers, and divine provision as they dedicated themselves to God’s glory. One of the stories tells of their needing a particular piece of land on which to build their print shop; however, the owner, an elderly lady, was intent on keeping everything she had ever inherited and would not part with the land. The women prayed and fasted, and, in their poverty, each felt directed to sacrifice some personal thing (a little wooden cross, a pretty picture, etc.). Mother Basilea then visited the old lady and could hardly believe her ears when she was told, “I’m not too much sad about the land, but it’s the plum trees; I do hate to lose the plum trees.” The women made and signed a contract that all the plums would go to the owner while the land would become the property of the religious order.
Over and over God met needs as the women prayed together, sacrificed, confessed their sins, and reconciled when there were grievances. Today the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary has eleven orders all over the world. They continue to live out and teach principles of reconciliation, justice, divine provision, and God’s love.
As I am reading Realities… I think of how our contemporary Church has moved away from expectant prayer. We are so familiar with the rituals (every church has them) that we forget we are speaking to the Living God. We take worship for granted, and when God does not answer a prayer for his glory, I wonder how often we examine ourselves to see if there are fractured relationships or unconfessed sin? How frequently do we dare to make personal sacrifices that God’s work may continue?
Realities of Faith has been a wonderful reminder of who God is and wants to be in our lives and in our fellowships. This is simply a journal of women who were serious about following Jesus and who found him to be everything and more than they ever hoped.
Father, thank you for the saints among us who encourage us in our journeys to climb higher and to get closer. That really is our heart’s cry. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.