Praise from Prison

15 04 2020

Honestly, I don’t know how to write to you today. We come to the climax of Paul’s celebration of Christ and the Church (Eph.3:14-21). His superlatives are so grand that I feel completely inadequate to comment.

The prayer is a doxology which ends with “forever and ever, Amen”!  I couldn’t agree more. With our world in such trouble right now, how reassuring to know that God’s glory will never be shaken.

Perhaps my best approach is to simply unpack what Paul prays for believers. These are spiritual riches the great apostle, and ultimately Jesus, want all saints to experience. They are already granted. We need to learn to embrace them.

May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith.

May you be rooted and grounded in love.

May you be able to comprehend with all the saints the width, length, depth, and height,

May you know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.

May you be filled with all the fullness of God.

Then Paul explodes with praise!

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen” (3:20-21).

I don’t know that loftier words have ever been written! They take us to the summit of divine truth.

As I pondered this, my thoughts shifted over to lyrics of a hymn written over 100 years ago by a businessman facing financial failure, Frederick Lehman. As I reviewed his story, I discovered that he took the third stanza from words written anonymously on the wall of a jail cell:

Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made. Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade.

To write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure, how measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure the saint’s and angel’s song.

I instantly recalled that Paul wrote his grand praise from prison as an “ambassador in chains” (Eph.6:20).

My deepest experiences with the love of God have been in my darkest dungeons of trial. God has given me my most profound words when my self-reliance was knocked out from under me.

What a paradox. When we are at our weakest, we can see God’s love most clearly.

The strain of Covid-19 increasingly confines and frustrates us. Is this an opportunity to reflect:

  • What praise is God drawing from my heart?
  • How am I yearning more for Him?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my life, my soul, my all.