THERE’S ALWAYS MORE

 

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.  John 10:10  (KJV)

 

 

I just read about a lady who was known for her extraordinary Christian maturity.  One day her pastor asked her to preach the Sunday sermon believing that her experience would be instructive to the congregation.  On the Sunday when the lady rose to speak, her sermon was short and sweet.  “Dear Friends,” she began, “there’s always more.”  And with that, she sat down.

Just begin to ponder that simple message:  there’s always more.  The God of the Infinite, the one who promised to meet all our needs, the Alpha (beginning) and the Omega (ending), the great Creator never operates in scarcity.  He never runs out of any resource—of love, of grace, of mercy, of patience, of whatever we need.  And there’s no end to the delights of knowing him.

Think of what this means in your present circumstance.  As a parent, spouse, friend, employer:  there’s more wisdom, there’s more understanding, there are more ideas, there’s more love…  As an intellectual:  there’s more to contemplate, there’s more to learn, there’s more to investigate, there’s more for growth…   As a leader:  there’s more direction, there’s more discernment, there are more resources, there’s more creativity…  As a disciple:  there’s more to discover, there’s more to obey, there’s more to abandon, there’s more to enjoy…  We could fill in the blanks indefinitely.  Suffice it to say, that in Christ, there is abundance.

Lest we consider God as having limited resources, just look at his provision for the Children of Israel in the wilderness; for Elijah in hiding; for Ruth in Bethlehem; for David in his wanderings; for Israel in exile; for feeding the four thousand and five thousand; for rescuing you and me; and for the times he is always there for his people.  His hand is not shortened that he cannot save nor is he deaf that he cannot hear our prayers (Isaiah 59:1).

We sometimes treat our spiritual beings as add-ons.  They’re peripheral to our real lives.  But Jesus says I’ve come to give you abundant life, more than we’re currently experiencing.  If we’re not living in abundance, there’s more.  God has more for us than we can think or imagine and waits for us to move beyond our impoverished selfishness into his endless provision of more.  Wherever we find ourselves, there’s always more.  Dare we take the challenge?

 

Father, charge our spiritual imaginations that we reach out in faith to you to receive more from your goodness.  Move us beyond our spiritual poverty into the richness we have in Christ Jesus.  Gratefully, we pray in Jesus’ name.  AMEN.

THE CHURCH AND SOME SAINTS

 

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…  Ephesians 2:19

My doctor is retiring.  I saw him this week for the last time professionally, and it was a bittersweet time for me.  Dr. B saved my life.

Many years ago when I was teaching and working on a graduate degree, I had to leave school one day because of intense back ache.  Back pain was nothing new to me; I was born with a mild case of spina bifida, which tended to affect many of my activities and complicate ordinary illnesses.

My mother gathered my two children and me to stay with her and my dad until this latest episode passed.  I took the pills that were my standby, but the pain increased.  After a few weeks, I was pretty much bedfast.  And then came tingling in my legs with visual and hearing impairment.

My doctor decided to hospitalize me for tests.  Batteries were run, and I tried to describe my symptoms to a noted neurologist.  Later, he called my mom to see if I was mentally stable.  When nothing of significance showed up, I was released—with intense back pain, tingling, visual and hearing impairment, and headaches.

We were praying in earnest for healing and diagnosis of the malady that for me was much more than mental instability.  All along Pastor Schwanenberg and Gloria had been visiting and praying with me.  One day they that said Dr. B, a church member, was interested in my case and wondered if my family would like him to give another opinion.  Without hesitation, we accepted his offer.

I was hospitalized again, and more tests were run.  Between tests church friends were visiting and cheering me on.  My friend, Linda, brought me a book and was with me when I received a call from my insurance agent.  I was waiting to see if coverage extended to the multiple tests and hospital stay.  I thanked my agent for calling, but somehow, without my saying a word, Linda left knowing my congenital malformation had exempted the company from covering conditions related to the back.

The next day or so, Dr. B came in with a smile.  He said they’d determined the problem; it was pernicious anemia, so called because before it was learned that vitamin B-12 injections could treat the anemia, most people who developed the disease died from it.  He began frequent injections of B-12 and within a day I was walking, and my symptoms were decreasing.

When I was released from hospital care, Papa came to pick me up.  He entered my hospital room with a smile and an envelope.  He always loved to joke, and he kept me in suspense about the contents.  Finally, Papa told me that when Linda had left the hospital, she went straight to Pastor Schwanenberg telling him about my insurance dilemma and wondering what the church could do.  By the time I was ready for release, my dad had in hand an envelope from my church with a check to pay all the hospital expenses.

Within a few days I was back at home and then back to work.  I called Dr. B’s office to see about paying his bill, which I suspected would be quite large.  Instead, the bookkeeper told me that the doctor had written it off in its entirety.  I’m not sure they make doctors like Dr. B anymore, but I am grateful that God brought this one and all those saints into my life.

 

Loving Father, thank you for the Church, your Body, and all the saints who bless us in so many ways.  Help me to love in deed just as I’ve been loved.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.

LIVING EXPECTANTLY

 

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.