Post by Jeanne Damoff, Secretary of The Lulu Tree Foundation Board

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine . . .”  Ephesians 3:20

The Note on my Phone

My family is in a season of major transition. We sold our house on July 15 and are building one in another state that won’t be ready before next March. I’m currently living with a friend, continuing to work at our church while they search for my replacement, and my husband and son have already moved to a third state, because there’s a family-owned property there where we can stay indefinitely. It’s a lot of upheaval and change. And on top of all that, there are a number of other logistics to navigate, any one of which could feel overwhelming if we let it.

So, what does this have to do with the note on my phone? I’m glad you asked.

The note is titled “The Immeasurably More,” and below that title, there’s a growing list of ways God has been providing for us. Some are very big and some are seemingly small. Some are specific and marvelous answers to prayer and others are simple but pleasant surprises. Some are acts of kindness by total strangers who have become new friends, and some are material needs met, but all of them are a reminder that we are seen and loved by the God who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. And I’m writing them down, because I want to remember.

“Very interesting,” you say. “And what exactly does this have to do with the Lulu Tree?”

You ask excellent questions!

The Lulu Tree is also in a season of major transition. God has been pruning our work and refining our vision on multiple fronts, any one of which could feel overwhelming if we let it. And the truth is, sometimes we do let it. Until we remember that our God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, and we turn our eyes to Him. And suddenly we see answered prayers, grace, mercy and provision everywhere.

Poverty Mindset

The sad reality is, whether we’re American or African, rich or poor, in a season of plenty or a season of lack, we can all tend to expect the worst. We worry about the future, living under a cloud of doom, dreading what’s around the corner. Often it’s because we have suffered in real ways in the past, and we know from experience that very hard, painful things happen in life. So, even when everything seems to be going great, we live on edge, waiting for the other foot to drop.

And yet. If we are sons and daughters of the living God, we have every reason to trust HIs goodness! Yes, we suffer, because suffering is the means by which we are conformed to the image of Christ, and God loves us too much to leave us in the selfish shallows of life. But everything we suffer passes through the hands of a loving and Almighty God, and all of it is purposeful. We aren’t subject to the whims of a cruel world. We are citizens of the kingdom of light, clothed in the armor of God, called and chosen to be His ambassadors in a dying world.

Why do we live as though we’re hanging on by our fingernails when the everlasting arms are beneath us, just waiting for us to stop striving, let go of our frenzied attempts to control, and fall into His embrace?

The Fullness of God

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, the apostle Paul describes some of the suffering he endured as he traveled from place to place preaching the gospel. He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and often near death. He faced dangers from rivers, robbers, Jews, Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, and at sea. He was hungry, thirsty, cold, and sleep-deprived, and on top of all that, he carried the burden of concern for all the baby churches he had planted.

If anyone had a reason to expect hardship around the next corner, it was Paul. But rather than fearing the worst, he could hardly find words sufficient to describe the kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and grace of God. The verse that prompted the note on my phone comes from this prayer in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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. 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! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21

Glorious riches. Power through the Spirit. Love that surpasses knowledge. The fullness of God. This is all ours in Christ, and He can be trusted when everything seems to be going great, or when it all feels like it’s crashing in. To be honest, I’m increasingly convinced that the way things seem or feel at any given moment has a lot to do with what we choose to focus on. Are we celebrating His gifts of grace or rehearsing our trials, fears, and frustrations?

I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now, but my prayer for you and for me and for all our beloved Lulu Tree partners is that we may be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit, and Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. I pray our roots go deep into Him, that we grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and we are so filled with Him, there’s no room left for anxious thoughts.

Life is full of changes and challenges. We can let them overwhelm us, or we can look to our God who is faithful to serve up daily bread — manna in the form of answered prayers, pleasant surprises, acts of kindness, material needs, and a whole host of new mercies big and small.

That’s what I’m learning. And as I receive these gifts I’m writing them down, because I want to remember. Maybe you should, too?