Superlatively superlative

Jacques Cousteau-like narration: We are gliding over the expanse of sea floor, over polychaete tubeworms growing meters tall, varying from pale pink to green, rocky crags from now-dormant undersea volcanoes, deep chasms that do not scar, but enhance, the terrain, and off to our right, a shipwreck. Even among the odd organisms below the surface of the sea, this alien creature presents a grotesque figure, steel and wood mangled into a heap, barnacles by the millions covering its once illustrious form.  /Cousteau monologue.

That’s me. The wreckage. It doesn’t look like much, surveying my life, there’s a degree program I didn’t finish, friendship bridges burned, a marriage I helped dissolve, debris and detritus from dreams unfulfilled. In short, there’s little to salvage, there. But on it and through it and all around it is life abundant. What looks like a wreck to an outside observer, on the inside, looks like a greenhouse.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… Ephesians 3:20

 

In the moment of the wreck, I didn’t think about, or ask for the vast network of life that has grown up around the sunken barriers and banisters and windows. But God is about to do “exceedingly abundantly” more than my imagination could suggest.

Exceedingly Abundantly

That’s some whacked out grammar there. Other translations skip the double-adjective in favor of more conventional sentence structure, but since the KJV is a pretty literal translation, I’m going to stick with this. Read it again. Read it a third time. Why choose those words? They mean nearly the same thing. Read it a fourth time. There is no comma between the words; this isn’t a list, it’s part of the same thought. Read it a fifth time.

It’s superlative. Superlative means that it has at least one feature to a greater degree than anything to which is is being compared. You take abundance, which already means oversufficient and you add to that exceeding, which means more than sufficient, and you do the hokey-pokey and turn yourself around, because THIS is what it’s all about.

Abundance with and without the green 

Most will equate abundance with money – it’s an occupational hazzard for Christian writers and preachers in the age of the prosperity gospel. I’m talking about a richness of life. Abundance that says that the little I have is more than enough.

I don’t have to have a lot of money; I don’t have to have ANY money, to see God perform works in my life that are exceedingly abundantly more than I can ask or think. When I do have money, I can live abundantly by honoring God with it. Giving it away. I tend to do that — I have money in my bank account for the first time in months, and someone comes to church to talk about adopting a child in Uganda or they kick off a stewardship campaign like this past week or  Meals on Wheels for pets… he takes my gift and does something exceedingly abundant with it.

What I ask and/or think

 

I see the wreck. I can’t see past the wreck. There I am, going down with the ship and praying “Father, save me. Keep me from drowning. Hoist me up. Perform a miracle.”

 He sees the flourishing sea floor, the beautiful wreck covered in life, the billions of organisms that could be housed and fed and nourished from the broken remains.

 If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work – Jacques Cousteau
 

Abundance that exceeds my imagination awaits me if I’ll stop holding on to what I think I want and dare to ask.

Has God ever taken your wreck and made something superlatively superlative from it?

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20 responses to “Superlatively superlative

  1. Wonderful post!!!

    I have a list of failings a mile long. I used to let my wreckage define me. I used to be the girl that always made the wrong choice. For so many years I let the fear of adding another failure to the list keep me from really living. But if we don’t try….then we aren’t living. Some of the worst mistakes of my life lead me to some of the most amazing gifts of my life. When I called off my wedding 3 weeks before I was supposed to get married, I thought I couldn’t be more of a failure. I had it all (seemingly) and here I was throwing it all away. This is how I came to DC. I had to get away from my wreck, so I ran away to DC. But DC is where I met Jesus. Where I not only accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, but as a friend. My friends and family really thought I had lost it when I called off my wedding and moved away….but now…..we can all see why. And now, I am off on a new adventure. I know that things aren’t going to go the way I think they will….they never do. If I fail, then I fail. But at least I tried. I am fine being God’s beautiful wreck. 🙂

  2. im always impressed that he can do anything at all with it. lol

  3. yeah, he definitely does. Back before I got married, I was in a place where I was leaning pretty heavily on my material “stuff.” Then, one day, my apartment was robbed and all my favorite stuff was taken. I was a mess, but God put me back together and showed me a lot of stuff. And eventually, my renter’s insurance payed for everything that was taken, and I got a lot of it re-bought. But I never approached my life and my stuff the same way again.

    btw, typo in “prosperity gospel”

    • Thanks for pointing out the typo and for the example – I had a break in about 18 months ago, and remember putting things back where they go, thinking, about how fortunate I was that we were not home.

  4. I exceedingly abundantly like this post.

  5. wow, profoundly awesome!!! 😉 if i haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now: I love this blog!!! thank you Kristin for seeing the odd juxtapostion of two adjectives and then writing about it. i completely relate to the not seeing beyond the wreck I call my life. i had dreams of a life of missionary service in Africa, Asia or some other far-away land. but I have found myself a missionary in a weirder place: my home province. and not a missionary in terms of a paid vocational minister, but as a friend to non-Christians (some of my friends are professing atheists. I pray for them, and let God bring the increase), as one who cares for the poor (though not as faithful with action as I should have been. that’s now changing), as one called to a life of progressive politics (boy, that might be a kettle of worms in some religious circles ;)), as one called to act justly, kindly and walk humbly with God no matter what position or place God assigns.
    i see how God has been molding the wreck and preparing it for the growth of exceeding abundance. and that God is in control and I’m not, for that I am thankful 🙂

  6. Absolutely! That’s been the story of the last 5 years of my life.

  7. Kristen, I really enjoyed reading this. Beautiful writing.

    When I truly think about it, God is exceedingly abundant all the time. And you’re right-its regardless of my circumstance. It has been even in the time when I’ve been ‘wrecked’, and even given away my ‘abundance’ where I’ve seen Him work amazing things. *Thanks for sharing!

  8. Yes. Once it was a literal wreck, a bus wreck that changed many people both physically and spiritually. It was amazing and the repurcussions are still felt.

  9. Wow, Kristin. What an incredible analogy.

  10. “You take abundance, which already means oversufficient and you add to that exceeding, which means more than sufficient, and you do the hokey-pokey and turn yourself around, because THIS is what it’s all about.” <– This is so awesome. I can tell you have really dissected the scriptures to a level where it's not just text but life… and that is what causes us to do the "hokey pokey and the turning around. 🙂

    God has taken my wrecked mess and turned it around for His glory so many times. He is an expert in doing this. And I learn oh so much.

    Beautiful post Kristin. Very moving. Thank you!

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