What is my favorite verse in the Bible? What a loaded question to narrow down an answer to. It seems that each new day brings with it new trials and each day’s trials could be supported by a new verse. However, I do have an answer to this question without hesitation.
Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV) Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.
This verse has spoken so sweetly into my Christian walk. I have been a Christian for about 25 years and it still amazes me when I submit myself before the Lord and he answers in an “exceedingly, abundantly above all I think or ask” way. I thoroughly enjoy listening to testimonies of when Jesus has made Himself real in the lives of His children. I want to share an instance of God making this verse come to life in a very real and tangible way.
My husband and I are on the board of a ministry called “Servant United Ministries.” One of the missions this ministry supports is a children’s home in Kenya housing 18 children. Several years ago, a seasoned pastor on our board encouraged my husband, Steve, and I to pray about going over to Kenya to visit this home. Personally, (and I’m ashamed to say it) I had zero interest in going to Kenya. I like my creature comforts. Going to Kenya seemed like a horrible way to spend two weeks of my summer. I felt like I was doing more than my share by sending money there to support them and even doing fundraising to support them. I dedicated countless hours with the Servant United board discussing and praying how to best meet their needs. I was confident I had done, and was doing, my Christian duty. Besides, it was my husband and I’s 20th wedding anniversary and he promised me a nice trip to an all-inclusive resort to celebrate. I was not interested in giving that trip up.
When this pastor friend made the proposal for us to join him on his next trip (he travels to Kenya 3-4 times per year for mission work), we politely declined and said no thank you. Besides, we did not have the money to travel there either. His response was simple…
“If God wants you to go, He will make a way. Let’s pray about this.”
Of course my husband and I agreed to pray with almost an eye roll/sigh approach, just waiting for God to confirm with “No, you do not need to go to Kenya. You are doing a great job here in America supporting this work.”
After praying for a few days, I realized that my husband must be a better person than I because he asked me if I would be interested in using the money we saved for our anniversary trip for the trip to Kenya. That was ridiculous for two reasons…
- That was very wrong of him to be willing to substitute our all-inclusive anniversary vacation for a trip to Kenya where I would be spending time in places that have no plumbing (if you get my drift) AND
- I’m a teacher and my husband is in ministry (with a side job to help support us) so we are not rolling in money over here. It took a lot to save up for our trip and using all of that money would only put a small dent in the needed budget for a trip to Kenya.
It just wasn’t going to work. And…now I’m mad! How dare my husband have a “Come to Jesus” moment about this trip and I hadn’t (yet)!! It made me look really bad, not to mention angry with him. So, I then realized my need to pray even harder.
God has a tendency to flip my thoughts on things when I really submit to Him and so I did. I began to pray in such a way that God would work on my heart to make it more like he would prefer it to be. Up until this point, my prayer had been presented in such a way that I wasn’t really giving Him the ability to say no. I was seeking his leading on an answer that I wanted to hear and not what His plan for me was. God did it though! He changed my mind and, in a very short time, I was researching and looking up what life in Kenya was like and what my time there would be like.
It was then that I started to really take a closer look at the cute little faces of the kids that would be moving into the children’s home. At this point, the home was in the process of being built and I was thinking of how sweet it would be to meet these kiddos. They were going to be moving from a place with no electricity, no running water, and limited clothing and food. They also were chosen for this children’s home because they were abused in terrible, unimaginable ways. Such sad stories. And to think that these children were going to get a chance at a new life with a Godly man and woman. Simon and Julie are the most selfless people you could meet and they would be running the children’s home there in Kenya.
So now, God had officially changed my heart. That is, once my prayer changed to an “open to His will kind of prayer” and I was ready, willing, and quite frankly excited to go on this mission trip to Kenya. However, we still had a huge obstacle to overcome…the finances.
At this point, we did NOT have the money to take this trip. So, my husband and I were united in prayer daily for God to provide. It was then that the most amazing thing happened just A FEW DAYS later! This brings tears to my eyes as I write. My husband and I were on the sidelines of our 6th grade son’s soccer game. We were approached by one of the fathers of another boy on his team. Completely out of the blue, this man came up to us and told us that he and his wife felt led to pay for Steve and I to go to Kenya. Now let me put this into perspective… This man and his wife are Christians that have asked us about our ministry. We have had a FEW conversations with them about the children’s home. That was the extent of our conversation. At first we thought they wanted to make a donation to our “Going to Kenya Fund” but they quickly clarified that they were interested in supporting the ENTIRE trip, whatever the cost. They said, “Just tell us what the amount is and we will write you a check.” Needless to say, my husband and I were weeping on the sidelines of this soccer game. God is truly amazing!
Skip ahead about 8 months later to Steve and I standing in the middle of an African village handing out clothing and basic supplies to Kenyan children. We had the opportunity of a lifetime to meet the children who would be moving into the home once it opened. And, to top it all off, my husband and I got to go on a two- night safari in Africa to celebrate our anniversary. God does “exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think.” What a trade! I love my Jesus so much!
In Ephesians 3:20, the key for me is the amazing last part, “according to the power that works in us.” Had I not let God change my heart by His power, this amazing experience could not have even happened. I had to release my will to allow for His will to take over. And, as my creator, He knows what is best. I would encourage you to open up your heart and take a step of faith as you allow God to lead your life in a new and amazing way. You will surely see that He will do “exceedingly, abundantly above all” that YOU could ask or think.