The first real beach that I remember going to was Kaanapali beach in Hawaii. I say “real beach” because growing up in the Lower Mainland I frequented White Rock Beach or Kits beach, but lets just be honest for a second, they don’t compare. This beach had beautiful sand, coral reef, tropical fish and the most beautiful and warm water I had ever seen or felt. I remember our first day on the beach; I grabbed one of those mini surf boards and took off to go get my surf on. I made it about waist deep into the water and then realized I had made a big mistake as I was standing face to face with a ten foot wave.
When I finally came to, I found myself deposited on the shore. I had sand all over myself, my throat and nose were burning from all the salt water, somehow my shorts were still on (praise the Lord for elastic waist bands) and in that moment I determined that surfing was dumb. I don’t know if you have experienced being crushed by a big wave, but it’s pretty intense. The power of the ocean is pretty amazing, we simply are no match for it. In Ephesians 1 the Apostle Paul prays that people would know God’s power. He prays that the eyes of these believers’ hearts would be enlightened to know “the incomparably great power for us who believe.”
He goes on to describe this great power like this:
“That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his 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. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
Paul’s letter is often thought to be a letter of encouragement that was circulated to several churches likely facing various forms of persecution and struggle. The way Paul sought to encourage these churches was by letting them know that he was praying for them, specifically asking that God would grow them deeper in their understanding of him and his power. Paul understood that in order for Christians to have confidence in their God, they must know and remember just how powerful he is. He leads up to this prayer explaining that God is sovereign over all (that was last week’s blog) and now he emphasizes that God is incomparably powerful. All sovereign and all powerful: it is quite the God that this Paul prays to!
In explaining this all powerful God, he points them to an example that we should be familiar with, the power displayed in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Paul prays that these believers would know that the power displayed at the resurrection is the same power that is at work in the Church. I must have missed the class ‘Pastoring through a Pandemic 101,’ because, as a pastor, I often find myself wondering how to best encourage those God has entrusted to me, to care for during this season.
So, let me take a cue from Paul.
Brothers and Sisters, be encouraged by the fact that the God who has the power to resurrect the dead and is seated with all power and authority over the whole cosmos is the same God we are appealing to through our prayers. He is not powerless to intervene in our situations. We may be no match for the power of the ocean but our God is not intimidated by it. He is a God who parted the waters, calms the sea – and, well, HE created it for crying out loud. His power, as Paul puts it, is incomparable. My prayer for you, is that you might know the power that is available to you in the finished work of Christ, and at work in and through his Church.