Daily encouragement

Video by

Stuart Poteet

Discipleship Pastor

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Ephesians 3:14-17

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his spirit in your inner being, also that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (ESV)

Behind the Scenes

Growing up, I wasn’t a strong child. You could have easily called me strong-willed or strong-headed, but I wasn’t strong in the physical sense. My mother even lovingly described me as “noodle arms,” which has been established as a family phrase that is used sparingly to this day.

My mother also told me that strength was not merely physical, but emotional and psychological. Strength was a way of life, not a way to dominate life. She told me this not just with her words but with her actions, like kind mothers will do to build confidence and truth in their child’s life. By creating that reality for me, my physical strength (or lack thereof) never bothered me much. I knew that I was strong-hearted, and to me that mattered more.

Now, fast forward 10 years, give or take. In talking with a friend, I expressed how thankful I was for how my mom made me think about strength, because it led me to the realization that my own strength will never be enough. “True strength is learning to lean on God’s strength,” I told her. “That’s why I’ve been so tired! But I am using God’s strength and love instead of depending upon my own, and now I’m getting somewhere.” I basically said, I have this thing figured out.  

She listened, waited for a moment, and then pushed me toward a deeper connection with God: “I see where you’re coming from, but I don’t think God wants you to use him for his strength. I think He wants to develop a relationship with you so that his strength is your strength. He doesn’t want to be separated from you; he wants to walk with you in everything.”

Make it Real

Turns out, I need people in my life like this who push me toward God and away from the world. I thought that I had come up with such a holy idea: use God’s strength instead of my own. I didn’t mean to suggest that I wanted to just “use” God, but my friend loved me enough to make sure I knew that God is not something to be used, but someone to know. Even though I first argued that we were saying the same thing, I needed to understand the difference between using God’s strength and knowing God as the King who is stronger than any force, any history, or any painful thought or circumstance.  

This slight change in my language changed the way I think about God and myself as his child. Yes, God is my source of power, but I need to focus on relationship with him, not what I can get from him. Paul gets at this dynamic when he prays, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (v. 17). Paul doesn’t want the strength of God to only exist outside of us, which could look like anything from the healing of a relationship (Proverbs 3:5-6) to the destruction of our enemies (Romans 3:4). Paul’s prayer is that God would be with us, in our “inner being,” guiding our hearts and minds. He knows that God wants to empower us to love, pray for, and take care of each other. God’s really kind like that.

The enemy loses a foothold in my life when I can look back on my life and see where God has already strengthened my story. Along the way, he molded and strengthened me with humility to reveal to me that, while I didn’t have much strength of my own, I could eagerly welcome his into my life. He exposed the truth to me that my power, even if mighty and great, could never amount to something eternal. I must instead rest in the humility that only his power is mighty enough to save and create something worthwhile.

End in Prayer

My God, you are a God of righteous power that you wield not only against my enemies, but to reach my heart. Thank you for continuing to draw me closer to you. I pray that you continue to break down the half-truths I have adopted and that you teach me the true depth and meaning of your love and power. Let me not yearn for my own power but for the powerful relationship you extend to me. Be part of my inner being and soak through every atom of my soul. I love you, Lord. Amen.

Written by

Autumn Krueger

ACF Youth Culture Administrative Assistant