Recently, a good friend and I embarked on an 8-hour road trip to Michigan. The long journey allowed for rich, deep, and mutually edifying conversation with this young man that I consider to be a son in the faith. As the miles passed and the fuel monitor began to creep towards "E," we stopped at a Pilot to refuel. Enjoying the opportunity to stretch, we walked into the convenience store to get something to drink. Feeling a little munchie, I grabbed a large bag of Goldfish crackers. When we hopped back in the car, I opened the bag and set it between us and said, "I hope you like these, help yourself." Though he offered a hearty, "Yes, I love those," I noticed that he did not take me up on that invitation. Initially, I just thought he was being his normal respectful self by letting me take some first. However, as we drove along with the bag wide open, he still refrained from eating any. So, I gently affirmed, "You are welcome to have some." He timidly obliged by taking a very small handful. In stark contrast to my shoveling a few crackers in my mouth at a time, he delicately chose and then nibbled one cracker at a time. When he finished, he folded his hands neatly in his lap.
Unable to discern the root of his hesitancy, I tried a different tack saying, "I realize that I may have purchased these, but, what's mine is yours, my friend. Dig in." Reaching in the bag, he again took only a tiny handful. After finishing his self-imposed pittance, he duly folded his hands in his lap.
Although I tried to focus on the teaching podcast we were listening to, my thoughts continued to drift towards the conundrum of one not availing themselves to the unrestricted bounty of that which they said they loved. "One more time," I thought. In a warm, paternal tone I smiled and said, "I really appreciate you being respectful and all dignified, but I bought these for both of us. Please don't be so polite and eat up!" This third affirmation proved to be the tipping point. The rest of the trip, to my delight, he seemed to relax, receive, and enjoy the permission that was his all along.
For the next 45 minutes, we rode in silence. (That, I guess, is what happens when two "internal processors" take a road trip together.) Lost in pondering prayer about the whole "Goldfish Incident," the spiritual parallel became clear. All of God is accessible to us, right now, in Jesus Christ. And, we are invited to fully partake and wholly enjoy the intimacy of that relationship.
In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul explains, "Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One, who grants us every spiritual blessing in these heavenly realms where we live in the Anointed - not because of anything we have done, but because of what He has done for us" [1:3 VOICE]. We are not given some blessing, but "every" spiritual blessing. [The Greek word is "Pas": Each, every, all, the whole, all things. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon].
Even Peter, one of the 12 disciples, expresses that presently accessible fullness saying that God has, "by his own action given us everything [same Greek word, Pas] that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness" [2 Peter 1:3 PHILLIPS].
And why? Because God wants to! "This was His pleasure and His will for us." This divine generosity is reflective of His nature. "...He is merciful and marvelous, freely giving us these things in His Beloved" [Ephesians 1:6b VOICE]. This lavish grace is offered "in his purpose of love" and "in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will" [PHILLIPS and AMP].
Selah. "Pause and calmly think about that" [AMP]. No, really. Take a minute and selah.
Beloved, you do not serve a God who is incremental, doling Himself out in portions based on your performance. And, you do not serve a God who reacts to poor behavior by withdrawing goodness and kindness from you. No, precious one. Quite the opposite. "Long before he laid down the earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son" [Ephesians 1:3-6 MSG]. Less eloquently stated, (but equally warm and hospitable), is the swing-the-door-wide-open, hearty invitation, "Come in, - - come in! and know me better, man! Look upon me. You have never seen the like of me before!" [The Ghost of Christmas Present to Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens].
Perhaps that's why Paul interceded for the Ephesians praying, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son]. And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people), and [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is in us who believe" [1:17-19 AMP].
As you take another step in your faith journey today, may I encourage you as I exhorted my traveling companion? "Help yourself... you are welcome to partake... dig in" to all that God has so freely given you. No more polite nibbling. No more duly folded hands in your lap. Eat up! All of God's empowering presence to become all that He sees when He looks at you is available, right now. Can you hear the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit whisper? "What's Mine is yours. What's Mine is yours. What's Mine is yours."
And may you respond to this divinely offered feast as the Prophet Jeremiah exclaimed, "When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight..." [15:16 NLT]. Amen.
As you learn to abide in the nature of God, the world will see and be drawn to this Divine Love. Through you, the Good News is proclaimed! One of the many ways you can serve those around you is to share Spirit-led words of encouragement. Here's a great starting place! All three volumes of 31 Days of Encouragement will equip you with vocabulary to sustain the weary and uplift the fallen.