This past week, a group from our church went to Estes Park, Colo., to help victims of last fall’s floods. In September of 2013 the area surrounding Estes Park received almost their yearly total rainfall in four days. In the wake of the storm, there was nearly $3 billion in damage statewide. In Larimer County, where we were working, 1,500 homes and 200 businesses were destroyed and 4,500 homes and 500 businesses were damaged.
Our team was joined by 120 youth from 2 Rivers Church in Knoxville, Tenn. ReachGlobal organized our teams to work on projects in Estes Park, Drake and Glen Haven. While our efforts only touched the lives of a few, the work done was immeasurably more than they could have done alone. Our team spent the week working on the property belonging to a 71-year-old man named Jack. We cleaned debris, we cut wood, we moved a steel shed, we moved sand and we built a retaining wall.
I believe that our experience offers a good illustration of what God can do in the life of people that are willing to yield themselves to God. When we arrived, it was clear that Jack was not expecting us. He was uncertain of what to make of us and apprehensive to accept our help. Nevertheless, as we went to work clearing brush he quickly warmed up to our service.
When our three vehicles full of volunteers arrived at his property, Jack had a choice. He could have said, “Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t need your help; I can do it on my own!” However, it was clear to any objective observer that this was not true. Certainly, he could have done many of the jobs we did, but because his priority was to rebuild his home, he could not have even started them this year. Other jobs, like moving the steel shed that probably weighed close to a ton, could not have been moved without the help of our tractor and a dozen helping hands.
Maybe you can relate to the objections, “I can do it on my own!” This is how many approach God. Christ came to pay the penalty for our sins, but we say, “Go help someone else, I got it!” Jack could have said no to our offer to help and we would have moved onto another project, but by humbly allowing us to serve him, we were able to complete in a week what he could not have done alone.
Pride is a great enemy of the cross. The price Christ paid because of our sin humbles us. It is easier to say, “Thanks, but no thanks” than to humbly consider our need. However, just as Jack could not complete what needed to be done alone, so too apart from Christ we can do nothing to save ourselves. Just as the before and after pictures of Jack’s property reveal the efforts of our team, so too will we see God bring great change to the life that is yielded to God. Allow me to explain.
In Ephesians 3 Paul testifies to the church how God is at work among them. He prays for the Holy Spirit to strengthen them with power. For what purpose? “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (17) However, the prayer does not end here. He also prays for them to, “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (18-19)
By Jack allowing us to serve him, we were able to illustrate in a tangible way what God does intangibly in the life of the believer that entrust themselves to God. A work of love that surpasses knowledge.
God will do a work that we cannot do; all that we need to do is humbly accept the free gift of salvation offered to us. Paul concludes this section of Ephesians 3 by declaring, “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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” (20-21)
The promise given to us is that if we will allow God to clear away the debris in our life he will do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”