This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to speak at Camp Evergreen’s Ladies Retreat. I was particularly excited about this event because the theme of their retreat was “Beyond” based on Ephesians 3:14-21, the very same passage which inspired the book I’m currently writing! When I heard this it was such confirmation from God that I was meant to be at this retreat.
I spoke four times in two days and in each session outlined how we can live the life beyond all we could ask or imagine. Here are a few of the key truths God revealed to us. I hope they can help inspire and encourage you today.
1. True Identity
In Ephesians 3: 14-17 Paul encourages the believers to find their true identity in Christ. He reminds us that God is our Father and our identity is found in being one of his children. So often we find our value in the earthly roles we play – wife, husband, mother, father, friend, professional, volunteer, etc. But those roles are what we do, not who we are. The problem with defining ourselves by these roles is that often we fail in these roles. If we define ourselves by what we do, this failing will shake our identity and cause us to question our value. Paul encourages us to allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen our inner being – the part of us God created in his image – the part that cannot be shaken even when circumstances change. When we learn to place our value in who God says we are, our identity is secure and we are free to set aside the expectations of the world and follow God into the abundant life he has planned for us.
2. The Key is Intimacy
In Ephesians 3:17b-19 Paul prays that we would be rooted and established in love. The only way we can do this is by spending quality time in the presence of God, each and every day. The Holy Spirit longs to reveal the heart of the Father to us but so often we are too distracted or busy to hear from Him. When is the last time you heard God’s voice clearly speak to you? This weekend we took some time to ask God what gift he wanted to give to us and why. I was excited to hear from several of the ladies how the Spirit spoke directly to them, giving gifts to both encourage and guide them. It’s one thing to hear the truth in a sermon or a great worship song, but to hear God speak directly to you in exactly the way you need will change you for eternity. And when we are rooted and established in his love this way, Paul says we will be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”. Only out of this filling can we effectively serve, love and live the life beyond.
3. Faithful with a Few
Ultimatley the life beyond all we can ask or imagine may not look the way we thought, but it will be the best life. It begins with taking what God has placed in our hands (time, money, resources, gifts, talents, abilities) and using these gifts to bless others. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just another way to “stay busy”. This is about asking God, in that quiet time with him, what he’s given us and how he wants us to use it. When we are faithful with what he’s given us today, instead of wishing for more and longing for tomorrow, he will bless us. Think of the Parable of the Talents – the master says to the servants who multiplied their resources, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” In order to see this increase we need to be faithful with the few. And as we step out in faith and see him bless our lives, we must remember whose kingdom we’re building. We were not put on earth to build personal empires and make our names known. The life beyond is all about building his kingdom and making his name known.
What God has for you is truly beyond all you could ever ask or imagine. Is this the life you’re living today?