I have many things that I enjoy looking at every morning. When I pull back the curtains in the dining room I like to glance over the back yard and check out any recent work that I have done in the yard and then let my eyes linger over the beautiful trees, shrubs and vines that line two sides of our property.
Just before I go back into the bedroom to help Piper up for the day, I take pleasure in opening the blinds on the two living room windows. As I slowly move my sight across our large front yard and then up and around the surrounding properties, it never fails to amaze me how wonderful our country neighborhood is and how blessed we are to have found this particular home.
Then when I enter into our bedroom and quietly begin to sing worship songs to my sweet wife, I always pause after opening the bedroom window that looks over the side of our home toward the forested commons area and take in the stunning green lawn, tall pines, the forest ground covering and multitude of birds fluttering from tree to tree. The sights and sounds around our property contain some of the most comforting and peaceful views that one can imagine! The largeness of nature that surrounds us is better to me than anything one can take to refresh, relax or medicate ones being!
And just as I take a daily peek into the beauty of God’s creation around me each morning, I also look at certain breath-taking portions of scripture each and every morning as a sort of quick refreshment and pick-me-up! One of those heavenly stimulants is Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21. Over the last few days I have found myself hard-pressed to get passed verse eighteen as accented in The Message Bible where it vividly talks of “being able to take in… the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love”
Now I understand that The Message Bible is not a word for word translation from the original Greek, but a paraphrase that seeks to bring the message of the Gospel to the reader through the use of modern language and currently used popular idioms. But from my life experience, I would have to say that the author, Eugene Peterson, nailed this one!
Over the forty seven years of my wife’s and my close relationship, we have continuously seen and personally experienced the overwhelming love of our Savior that I can only characterize as being within a totally different and greater dimension than anything the world has to offer. It is one that can only be accurately termed as “Extravagant!”
On a hunch I looked up the word “extravagant” in the dictionary and discovered that it literally means: “wandering beyond limits.” It is also described as being: “Irregular, wild and not within the ordinary limits of truth or predictability or other usual bounds.” (1828 Webster Dictionary, Dictionary.com) Now, that’s the kind of Godly, agape love that I have witnessed over and over again in our lives as well as in the lives of many other Christian men and women and boys and girls that I have known and/or ministered to over my 64 years of life. And yes… it is not like the kind of love you see acted out on TV, or in the movies or in the lives of many folks living in our cities.
It is that unique Godly love that is empowered by His grace. It is the kind of love that is undeserved and unlimited! It is the kind of love that goes WAY beyond any natural measure or understanding! And it is the unmeasurable, unlimited and unending love that Papa God has for you and me!
As I meditated on this over the last few days, I realized that Piper and I began to expect this type of extravagant love in our lives very early in our relationship. But please understand, that this expectation is not driven by selfishness or a give-me, give-me attitude. It is based on an awesome, humble and amazing understanding of how much God loves each of us. That as we are obedient to Him and His ways and allow His Word to abide in us, and us in Him, that like any good father, He wants to love us beyond measure… and His measure… well… its EXTRAVAGANT!
I also realized that once you have this expectation of the extravagant dimensions of Papa God’s love that you’ll begin to think and then flow within that dimension. The difficult part of this expectation though, is that it is almost impossible to explain your actions (based on this personal understanding and expectation of God’s extravagant love) to people who do not yet have this personal expectation of God’s agape love.
With this expectation one does not consider “how” when called to do or believe for something from the Lord, but “how big.” It is not a question of how ‘we’ are going to afford and/or do this, it is a question of how big is our faith ‘in God and His agape love’ concerning our fulfilling of what He is calling us to do and/or dream for. The focus is on His unlimited abilities and not on our personal limitations! This expectation is one that has us believing in Him as we “wander beyond limits,” are seen as doing things that are “irregular” to the normal way of doing things, and begin to step out into areas that are normally understood as “not within the limits of truth or predictability or other usual bounds.”
Living your life and daily decisions with this expectation will most likely cause some folks around you to think you’re a little… shall we say different! But you know… My wife and I have come to accept and actually be proud of that description… because as Christians… we are supposed to be different than the rest of the world… wouldn’t you agree?
So what about you? How EXTRAVAGANT do you want your relationship with Papa God to be? How much of His EXTRAVAGANT love do you want to experience on a daily basis? The rest of Ephesians 3:18 in The Message Bible says that in order to experience this kind of love, we have to “reach out,” “test,” “plumb” and “rise” up into its “breadth,” “length,” “depths” and “heights.” In other words… we have to take specific actions in order to step into this new exciting and unlimited dimension!
Is that something you might want to do? My answer continues to be a resounding “YES!”
Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What new and different dimension of God’s EXTRAVAGANT love am I expecting to enter into… today?”