Ephesians 3:14-21: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. 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, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Wow, what a pronouncement that is. Did you notice the length of that first sentence? Paul couldn’t stop, could he? He just kept pouring out praise.
When I faced breast cancer nearly four years ago, I learned, really learned, how my life could seem like one long praise to God, on the good days and on the bad days, too. I learned that because God very carefully spoke to my heart of His great love for me in all circumstances.
One temptation that I faced–one that I think happens to others in adversity, too–is the temptation to over-examine how I got there. We Americans are especially keen on responsibility, after all, so I initially faced the tendency to go over every circumstance of my life that could have been related to the cancer to see whether I might conclude that I could have avoided it by living my life differently.
In one of the first moments that I seized on something I thought I should have done differently, I felt God deliver a loving, but stinging rebuke to my soul. He let me know that my past is my past, and is under the blood, but that I can at every moment in my life, decide to follow Him in radical obedience and He will work with me from that moment on to make of me a new creation. After all, I can’t hold my hands open to receive His grace and love while clutching my past in both hands!
I have remembered this principle since then. He loves me radically, freely, enough to have given His life to ransom me. My past is past but my present and my future can be lived in radical obedience to Him. No paralysis of looking backwards, but rather moving ahead in His love, free and eager to serve Him. That way, “my life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Oh, praise His name!