An Embarrassment of Riches

About thirty-five years ago, a young musician living in New York City was drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ purely by the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

There was no one preaching to her, and no one she could think of that would have been praying for her to come to Christ. God just wanted it to happen, it seemed, and she responded.

That young, lost musician was me. He found me.

Shortly after this supernatural stirring to know the man called Jesus, the Word of God was opened to my understanding. I remember at a deep, visceral level the joy that enveloped me, body and soul, as I absorbed the words of ancient Scripture.  

There I was, working for a diamond cutter on 47th St., commuting each morning on the subway with my little green pocket-sized New Testament and Psalms. You know the kind I’m talking about.

I stood, reading Ephesians while holding onto the pole. Astonished by the revelation of God (always in the King James Version, those days):

He blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

He chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

He predestinated us to be his children according to his own good pleasure.

He redeemed us through his blood, forgiving our sins because of the riches of his grace.

He abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.

He has made known to us the mystery of his will.

He has determined to gather together in one all things in Christ

He has provided an inheritance, that we should be to the praise of his glory.

We have been sealed by faith with the holy Spirit of promise as earnest for the promised inheritance.

In other words, an embarrassment of riches. And that’s only the preamble to Chapter 1!

The great Apostle Paul—how grateful I am for this courageous, faithful, brilliant man of God!–went on from there, praying for all believers that:

The eyes of our understanding would be enlightened to know—

                    the hope of his calling and the riches of his glory;

                    the exceeding greatness of his power toward us

                                       according to the working of his mighty power,

                                                  which he wrought in Christ

                                                  when he raised him from the dead

                                                   and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places

                                                                   far above all principality, and power, and might,

and dominion and every name that is named.

Lest we forget, Paul reminds us that God the Father did all of this to glorify his Son. He put all things under the feet of the Son, and made him head over all things pertaining to his church, which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.

Ridiculous. Heady stuff to be learning for the first time at the age of 23.

I was a bit angry, to tell the truth. Why didn’t anyone tell me this stuff when I was growing up in suburbia, becoming a teenager, acting like a fool?

Why didn’t anyone tell me sooner that heaven had come to earth, and that God had made available such extravagant gifts of grace!?!

I felt like I’d just stumbled on a goldmine no one had ever discovered. It had been there all along, hidden in plain sight.

These words from a letter from 2000 years ago haven’t diminished in their power. Paul’s language is so theologically rich and effulgent that scholars spend years parsing a single verse.

These words changed me then, and continue to impact me every time I meditate on them.

As we endure times of tediousness, mediocrity, hypocrisy, and broken dreams, there is still Ephesians. There is this source of supernatural, poetic, mind-awing truth.

There is this embarrassment of God’s riches, poured out for all who will seek and find it.

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