"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."
This verse is thrown around at prayer meetings a little too lightly. It's become a somewhat placid reminder that doesn't mean much. Yes, yes, I know: God can do anything. He is the ultimately able one. And yet, perhaps the real clout of this verse is found in the second half - this limitless god does his limitless things through... Us.
Eh? These immeasurably great unthinkable things that we don't even dare ask for, that can't even be articulated into words, are done according to his power at work within us. Yes. You read that right. Us. Little old you and little old me. Why then do we not see God act in ways beyond our understanding? Jesus promises to answer prayers for anything asked in his name (John 14.14) but that isn't the reality of most of our daily prayer lives. And so, is the power at work within us the faulty? Is this same power that raised Jesus from the dead defunct now that it's being worked out through clay jars that don't know what they're doing?
That is a dangerous trajectory to go down and I am cautious of going down it, hesitant to suggest that the limitation of the power is not the power but the us. We know the reality of the power within us. We are the once-dead dead no longer. And yet what things does God wish to work through us that don't happen? Why do we not see the more than able One doing more than we ask him to?
I want to access the resurrection power within me for the sake of the world and I want to be willing to consider that my life is part of the problem, part of the barrier. Scripture is, after all, brutal in its emphasis on self examination. Am I asking for what God wants or what I want? (1 John 5.14) Am I harbouring unconfessed sin? (Psalm 66.18, James 5.16, Isaiah 59.2, 1 John 1.9) How's my marriage? (1 Peter 3.7) Am I obedient in the little? (Luke 16.10) Am I loving the poor? (Proverbs 21.13)
I am not trying to be facetious. Nor am I wanting to spoil the glorious reality of our ultimately able God's desire to do the awesome as we ask him to. But we cannot ignore the possibility that God might need to do some working in us before he works through us. Are we willing to let him search our hearts this morning? Psalm 139.23.