This past Sunday we had a guest speaker at our church since our Pastor and his family were out of town. It was not the first time that Pastor David Ralph has stepped up to the pulpit of our church when invited and just as before I found inspiration and a message worthy of meditation in his words on Sunday morning.
The scripture for his message was:
Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
The gist of the sermon was an exhortation for us to remember not to put limits on God’s influence in our lives but to allow Him to exceed our expectations and imaginations as He works in our hearts and lives.
I’d venture to guess that most of us get so caught up in our daily lives with all of its details, deadlines, and demands that if we happen think of God at all it is usually with a quick prayer thanking Him for something or asking for help with something else. We pray with an expectation of what we think He might be willing to do on our behalf.
Paul says that God is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than we can ask or imagine. If we could think of the biggest, most dramatic answer to prayer, God can do so much more than that. SO much more, we can’t even imagine it.
So why limit God with our own expectation or lack of imagination?
I thought of a story told by Steve Vinton to a group of us who had traveled to Tanzania, Africa last summer to visit Village Schools International. Steve and his wife Susan are a remarkable couple and meeting them and spending time with them in their home and village of Madisi was an experience I’ll remember always.
Steve told us the story about how the AIDS Clinic in the village came to pass. I’ll recount the story here, but let me add my disclaimer that all of the details may not be exactly accurate….however this is the way I remember the story:
After settling in this village in Tanzania it soon became clear that AIDS was a prevalent issue in the area. Susan began dreaming about building an AIDS clinic in the village to serve those affected by the terrible disease. There was a small corner of land not being used by the school so Susan claimed it for the location of the dreamed-for clinic until such time when there were funds to proceed. In true Vinton/Village School fashion, they did not launch a big fund-raising campaign, but just began to pray that God would please supply whatever was needed.
In the meantime there was a woman who had come as a short-term volunteer to teach an intensive English course to the students. At the end of her time in Tanzania she confessed that volunteering in this way may not be her calling. However she asked if she could help by raising funds for the AIDS clinic after she arrived back home. Of course, the Vintons agreed.
I don’t remember how much time it took for the funds to be raised. (I wish I did, because it would probably strongly emphasize the point of God working beyond our wildest imaginations!) But it turned out that the amount of money raised for the clinic was many times more than what Susan & Steve had estimated they needed to build the clinic on the small piece of land designated for that purpose!
Steve simply said: “Well, I guess God wants a much larger clinic that we planned!”
The village donated more land so a larger clinic could be built. It is now a beautiful, working clinic in the middle of this village that before had no resources to battle this terrible epidemic. Imagine!
To top it all off, the “Doctor” who treats the patients that come to the clinic is M’Safari, a young man who, growing up in a poor village, had no future beyond the government primary school. But because Village Schools International built a school in his area he was able to go through secondary school and then went on to earn his Nursing degree.
Now he serves the people of his community, caring and healing and loving them one by one.
Who could have imagined such an outcome???
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Read Steve’s blog
Read Susan’s blog