I once took a photograph of my kindergartener standing next to a lion, with one hand on her hip and a gap-toothed grin on her face. The lighting that morning was perfect for a picture. You could hardly see the thick wall of glass in between the lion’s mane and my daughter’s barrettes, but we knew the zoo exhibit window was strong. Seeing the window for what it was gave us boldness, even though we could also see the tell-tale scratches in the glass.
Seeing reality rightly makes all the difference. In the first chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes the staggering reality that would change the way the Ephesian believers would see things forever. We need to see this reality and live in light of it, too. Whether you are currently waiting in a queue to board the train at Marienplatz, struggling to get comfortable in a hospital bed in Scarborough, or sweating as you peddle your rickshaw in Delhi, this reality governs your life.
“God’s word sheds perfect light on the big picture of his plan to unite all things in his Son.”
Everything — in heaven, on earth, past, present, future — comes into crystal clear focus in Ephesians 1:9–10:
[God is] making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
There’s nothing in the cosmos that is outside of God’s grand plan, and that makes it a thrill to be alive to him wherever you are in the world, and whenever you are in history.
Put Your Shoes On
If you’re a child or a parent (or you can remember being a child), then you have heard this before.
Child asks parent, “Why?”
And the parent answers, “Because I said so.”
Now, when God says, “Walk this way,” we do not need to know why. He is our heavenly Father. But when we read that God has revealed the mystery of his will, we sit up straight and listen with cheerful eagerness. He is gracious to fill out why for our motivation.
Knowing the mystery of God’s will and understanding his purpose makes a cosmic difference in our lives. For instance, on any given Saturday morning, you recognize the difference between, “Kids, get your shoes on,” and “Kids, get your shoes on because we’re going to get donuts!”
“There’s nothing outside of God’s grand plan, and that makes it a thrill to be alive to him wherever he places us.”
Over and over throughout Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, God is saying, “Walk this way.” Our old life outside of Christ is held up in stark contrast to our new life in Christ. The second half of the letter is especially direct in showing us how to be imitators of God, as his beloved children. And we get to see all of these descriptions, commands, household codes, and encouragements through the glorious window of God’s plan to unite all things in Christ.
“Why?” we may ask. “Because I am uniting all things in Christ,” comes the all-encompassing answer.
This exciting motivation — God’s grand plan — affects the way we see our opportunities, trials, roles, joys, hopes, and worries. It makes us willing to endure suffering, patient when we’re antsy, and bold to pursue risky ventures for the gospel. How eagerly we grab hold of opportunities to make disciples when we remember who God is and what he is doing!
Wake Up and Smell the New Creation
On some mornings, when my body is not physically ready for an early wake up call, I have to mentally tell my feet to move to the tile floor and drag me to the coffee pot in the kitchen. Similar to physical sleepiness, our hearts can be groggy when God calls us day-by-day to wake up to the reality he has set in motion. All throughout the Bible, and in dense, concentrated measure in Ephesians, God gives us the help we need to see rightly.
“How brilliant and colorful our day would look if the eyes of our hearts were open to the hope we have in God!”
With a 20/20 spiritual vision of God’s plan, how different should our perspectives be on that staff meeting, jog in the park, trek to the well, or time spent in the rocking chair with a baby? How brilliant and colorful the day would look if the eyes of our hearts were open and enlightened to the hope to which God has called us! How comforted and humbled we would be if we realized we are God’s glorious inheritance! How confident and happy our evangelism would be if we realized what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe!
God’s word sheds perfect light on what he is doing, helping us to see the big picture of his plan to unite all things in his Son. It’s a thrill every minute — now and forever — for all who are alive and aware in him.