Last Fall, a good friend and I embarked on an 8-hour road trip to Michigan. The long journey allowed for deep conversation with this young man who is like a son in the faith to me. As the miles passed and the fuel gauge began to creep towards "E," we stopped at a Pilot to refuel. Enjoying the opportunity to stretch and feeling a little munchie, I grabbed a large bag of Goldfish crackers and a drink.
When we hopped back in the car, I opened our newly-acquired snack and set it between us saying, "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. Gently affirming, "You are welcome to have some," He timidly obliged by taking a couple of crackers. In stark contrast to me shoveling handfuls into my mouth, he delicately chose and then nibbled on them one at a time. And then when he finished, he folded his hands neatly in his lap.
Unable to discern the root of his hesitancy, I tried a different tack. "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 few crackers, duly folding his hands in his lap after finishing his self-imposed pittance.
Although I tried to focus on the 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. So 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. To my delight, he seemed to relax, to partake, and to enjoy the permission that was his all along.
For the next 45 minutes, we rode in silence. (This is what happens when two "internal processors" travel together!) Lost in pondering prayer about the whole "Goldfish Experience," the spiritual parallel suddenly became clear to me.
Like the wide-open bag of Goldfish," 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 the book of 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 a teaser sample portion. Instead, we are lavishly supplied with every spiritual blessing. The Greek word for "every" is "Pas": Each, all, the whole, all things. [The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon].
Peter, one of the 12 disciples, expresses that accessible fullness explaining 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 all of this kindness toward us? Because God wants to! "This was His pleasure and His will for us." 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, exhale, and consider that.
Beloved, you do not serve a grumpy God, reluctantly doling Himself out in incremental portions based on your performance. And, you do not serve a God who reacts to your 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]. In my mind, it is akin to the hospitable, swing-the-door-wide-open, hearty invitation extended to Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, "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 asking, "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].
Precious one, 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. 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."
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.
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