“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
– Ephesians 1:18
As we begin our ministry journey, I don’t think we really have any idea what that journey will be like. If we did, it’s possible we might not be so enamored by it. When we start out in ministry it’s easy to feel idealistic about what is to come. God has called us! We will follow Him anywhere! Nothing will stop us from following Jesus! It doesn’t take long, however, before our enthusiasm begins to wane. Maybe we face circumstances that make ministry difficult. Or it could just be that the different paths on which we have traveled all feel never-ending and impossible. When those challenges arise, it can produce intense anxiety. We might feel like failures or mediocrities. We may even question our choice to follow Jesus in the first place.
Certainly the Apostle Paul knew a couple of things about setbacks. Between persecution, travel difficulties, and several arrests, he had many opportunities to regret his choice to follow Jesus. But in this passage in Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul encourages other believers in their own journeys. He has a couple of different methods of doing this.
First of all, he encourages his readers to stick closer to Jesus than ever before. In verse 17 he writes, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Notice that this is not through some increased exertion on the part of the reader, but through the grace of God. Christ’s goal is for us to be closer to him, and Paul prays that his readers would receive the Holy Spirit so that they may be closer. Our ministry is fueled by our closeness to God, and Paul knew that well.
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The second view Paul takes is what I call the long view. Look at Paul’s perspective after he talks about the power of Christ available to believers. “That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at the right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (verses 19b-21)
What a mind-blowing thought! The power that called us to a life of ministry, is the very same power that raised Christ from the dead! What chance do the limitations around us stand? Sure, we may face genuine adversity, but we know the overall outcome. Not only that, but this power will keep working long after we are gone. When all of our difficulties are a distant memory, and our lives are stories passed down in the next generation, that power will have the final word. It will endure.
We can’t let our human perspective warp our outlook. The difficulties we face now are real, and they are not insignificant. But they are nothing compared to the one who called us in the first place, and long after we are gone, the power of Christ will still endure. God is always using the short lives of humans to build His eternal kingdom, and we get to be a part of His plan.
Contributed by Nate Owens, Regional Communications Coordinator