Have you ever made a costly mistake that you believed was irreversible? Perhaps, like me, you thought you could never recover your losses. I hope that my experience will encourage you.
My husband and I met at college. We hung out at the Newman Center, a society for Catholic students attending secular universities. Our shared faith brought us together. We were united in holy matrimony at a nearby Catholic Church by the priest at Newman House.
I have adopted a value system based upon the absolutes set forth in the Holy Scriptures. The Catholic Church embraces these same values. For me to belong to another denomination with differing beliefs would be inauthentic, but seeing the more relative values showing up in the membership of my own church gave me cause for concern. Feeling out of alignment with those who disagreed with and were not living out the basic tenants of my denomination, I made the decision to step away. And I ardently convinced my family to do the same.
At first, I tried another denomination. And then another. And yet another, always seeking that idyllic church that would feel like home. After about a decade of bouncing in and out of almost every Christian denomination, I decided to take a break from church. For about two years, actually.
During this time, God made me aware that I had made a mistake in leaving the church in which I was married, and where my son was baptized and confirmed. I realized I should have been strong enough to override the rebels in the church and I should have stayed. Suffering with the understanding that my poor choice had left considerable carnage in its wake, I did not put much hope in my prayers. I desperately wanted to return, but my husband and now adult son had moved on to other churches. I considered my situation a lost cause.
Confused, but devoted, I went back to my beloved Catholic Church alone. In time, my husband decided to join me. I could not have imagined, then, what the future would yet bring.
In the moment that God revealed his glorious plan and over-the-top abundant answer to my feeble prayers, you could have knocked me over with a feather. My son and daughter-in-law announced they would be attending a Catholic Church. This would involve his wife’s conversion to the Catholic faith, having their marriage blessed by the priest, their baby girl baptized, and their previously baptized little boy received into the church.
At home that night, tears poured from my eyes as I thanked God. I am still overwhelmed at the thought that he cares enough about me to see that this troubling thing, which holds so much importance for me, is now righted.
Not only this, but my daughter-in-law’s mother has also converted to the Catholic faith, of which her husband was already a long-time member. All of my significant others are now together in our beliefs. If you have not experienced the blessing of this, I can tell you it is a source of boundless joy. God has surely increased my faith with this gift, and for that, I praise him!
Now to him who by the power at work within us
is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever. Amen.
This is not the first time God delivered much more to me than I asked for. Our experience of the past effect produced by coming to God in prayer should tip us off to the measure of the gifts God can bestow upon us. We can estimate what will be by what has been. This time, though, I did not see it coming. The power within us is a work in process. Our spirits are only partially polished, while much still remains in the rough. We forget what we have in him and underestimate his love for us. It’s important to note that our thinking is so lowly that even our farthest-reaching requests fall far below the greatness of God’s power. God’s goodness can certainly astonish us by surpassing our thoughts and desires.
Prayers, made in faith, allow us to think about the possibilities of the grace to which we appeal. Doing so causes our hope to grow greater. As true prayer climbs higher, its view becomes wider, and we become more conscious of the breadth of God’s grace. We can expect remarkable things of God, according to his good pleasure. We are the sons and daughters of the King, and he does not limit the gift of his treasure to us.
So, we should not shy away from making great requests of God. After receiving so much, we still may ask for more as long as our praises rise to him. Encouraged by what Christ has already done for us, let us expect more. God knows what we desire before we even ask him, and he has already decided to provide those things for us. He knows what we desire even when we are unaware. He bestows blessings upon us that we did not even know to ask for.
Do you have a great big request for God? A seemingly impossible request? Don’t hesitate to put it out there. We have a great big God who wants to give us abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.