“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 3:16-21 (NIV)
If you have attended Seacoast Church, you’ve heard Ephesians 3:20 given as the benediction at the end of every service. I’ve always loved it because I’ve witnessed God do immeasurably more in my life, my marriage, and in the lives of our two boys. I even had an artist paint it on a massive wooden sign that now hangs in our living room. It reminds me every day of all that God has done in our lives.
The intellectual side of me knows Christ’s power lives within those who believe and accept him as Lord and Savior, but a part of me often doubts that same power truly resides in me. Recently, God orchestrated a series of events which brought fresh perspective to this passage.
Even In The Storm
Each year, on the first weekend of October, 50-60 women embark on the Sisterhood Women’s Hike. The mission is to give women the opportunity to disconnect from their busy lives and make space to grow spiritually, physically, and relationally while experiencing God through nature.
The leaders plan the hike months in advance, planning the trails of each team, ensuring the hikers have the right equipment, and creating the overall spiritual plan. It’s amazing to hear stories of God moving in powerful ways on the mountain. He always shows up, he always moves, and the women return home with a community of sisters to walk beside them, encourage them, and love them.
Our leaders have learned to expect to face a few spiritual attacks along the way. The enemy gets scared when you intentionally provide room for God to impact not just the lives of the women hiking, but also generations to follow. For the fall 2022 hike, he pulled out all the stops!
The attacks started as moderate: cars broke down, work schedules shifted, children got sick. Then there was Hurricane Ian heading for the coast of Florida, its path unpredictable. Ian had the potential to hit us with heavy rain and wind on the second night of our hike. Our leaders got to work on Plans B and C…and D.
Change Of Plans
Having camped with my family many times at Asbury Hills, a retreat center near Greenville, SC, I knew they had primitive campsites, miles of trails, and cabins. Two days before our planned departure, I sent an email to the director of Asbury Hills to ask about potentially renting their primitive campsite and a few cabins if conditions became too dangerous to stay in tents. I explained the Sisterhood Hike mission and gave examples of how God has moved in the lives of these women.
The following afternoon I received a call from Trevor at Asbury Hills. They were willing to reduce the cost of the primitive campsite to $160 in total for all of us, and the cabins to $160 per person. I thanked him and said I’d call back after the latest Ian update. I did the math. It would cost $9,600! Our nominal hike registration fee goes toward purchasing hike shirts and extra equipment lent out to those in need. We certainly did not have $9,600. But we did have $160. So Plan B was to secure this safer primitive camping spot, contingent on the rain and wind.
As promised, I called Trevor. We’d reserve the primitive campsite for the weekend. Trevor asked, “Were you not interested in staying in our cabins?” I explained we loved the cabins, but our budget didn’t allow it. Trevor asked to put me on hold. When he returned, he said, he’d talked with the owner and shared our mission. “Our mission,” he said, “is to support you in your mission and to ensure that your group is safe while on our property; therefore, we will charge you $160 for the primitive campsite, and we’re going to give you as many cabins as you need, to accommodate your entire group free of charge. We hope y’all have an amazing weekend and we can’t wait to hear what God does on the mountain.”
Tears of joy and amazement flooded my eyes as I thanked him profusely for their generosity and blessing. God had absolutely done immeasurably more!
God, of course, is the power; but the immeasurably more comes from God’s power that is at work within us. As believers, we have access to his power. Out of God’s glorious riches (certainly not our own), he empowered the owner of Asbury Hills to give generously, and through that same power, he strengthened our leaders to persevere and orchestrate an incredible Sisterhood hike—an experience that allowed so many women to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
Where do you need God’s power in your life? He wants to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine in your life too! Are you willing to invite him in?