By Michael Crandall
Senior Pastor, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Dyersburg
What is strength? How can we measure strength? What does strength look like? These are all questions that a person could ask. And on the surface these are questions that have simple answers. From a purely secular point of view, strength could be defined as the state of being strong. And if we look at it from that point then we measure strength by how much a person can lift or by how far they run without stopping. Is strength that person we meet in the gym that looks like they should be on the cover of a health and fitness magazine?
When I look at this word strength I have two points of view. I have the secular and the spiritual. In the secular side of things I look at it from being a person that goes to the gym regularly. I have struggled all of my life with weight problems and only in recent years have I been able to control it. In the early days of going to the gym I could not run more than a quarter mile without being completely out of breath. The first time I decided to bench press any weight I could only lift 95 pounds! I obviously did not have much strength. After several years of working out regularly I have been able to finish a couple of races and I have hit a personal goal of bench-pressing 300 pounds.
When I look at strength from a spiritual point of view, I can look into my life and see where at times I was strong but also at times where I was very weak. In this week’s lesson we see the Apostle Paul writing to the church at Ephesus. Here he is sharing with the members of that early church about keeping their faith and staying strong in the Lord. In verse 16 Paul writes that he is praying for their strength. The early church was much like the church of today; it had its share of struggles and hardships.
The apostle Paul goes on to say in verse 17 that he is praying that they become rooted and established! Wow, what a prayer! More often than one would think we see people come to Christ because of our evangelism and outreach ministries. But then we fail to get them rooted in their faith! In order for us to help create a generation of believers that will be willing to share the gospel to the next generation, we must get them rooted in Christ Jesus! It is more than just asking them to attend Sunday School, but we must walk with them, answering their questions, encouraging them and even prodding them at times along the way!
Strength is not because of the believer; strength is because of Jesus. Paul shares an exciting point when he writes, “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”! I have learned first- hand that God can and will walk and many times carry us through the difficulties of life. Just a little over two years ago when the truck I was driving turned upside down and our daughter was injured, God carried our family. During the days and nights of that following year there were times I cried out to God and He was always there! Not because I was the senior pastor of a church, or that I was some well- known speaker, but because I was His child! His love for us is more than most will ever understand.As a believer we can stay strong because He will never leave us nor forsake us!