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.
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?