If your dad was Bill Gates, I wouldn’t expect to find you pan-handling in the streets of Detroit. No! You’d be staying at five star hotels when you traveled, and well-collared people would be seeking your advice and support for their projects. If your great-great grand-dad had been John D. Rockefeller, you wouldn’t be complaining about the latest increase in grocery prices. No! People with political aspirations would be seeking you out to get your endorsement in their run for public office and university presidents would be lining up to ask you to make commencement speeches. Your sphere of influence would be great around the nation and the world.
But isn’t our spiritual Daddy greater than either of these two mere human beings? Why can’t we see that? God actually invites His children to seek positions of influence. And He promises to meet those aspirations when the motives are pure and the intentions are righteous. “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings. Do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited.” (Isaiah 54:2-3) This was a promise He made to His people Israel. But isn’t the Church spiritual Israel. If so, then this promise applies to us as well.
This is what Paul seems to imply in his letter to the Galatians, when he quotes the first verse of Isaiah 54: For it is written in the Scriptures, “Rejoice, O barren woman, who has not given birth to children; break forth into a joyful shout, you who are not feeling birth pangs, for the desolate woman has many more children than she who has a husband.” He then goes on to explain that the one initially barren, now the spiritual “mother of us all” represents the New Covenant church.
Many of us wish, even yearn for the day that God may ask something incredible of us. But why not just seek that of God ourselves? We have to get beyond just imagining great things, to the point of believing that great things, the “naturally impossible” can become a reality to us. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10)
What was “this” that Jesus was referring to? In the specific incident cited, He was answering His disciples’ inquiry about what it takes for a man to be saved. But I believe it goes much beyond that. Remember, these men had just watched a rich young ruler walk away from Jesus, sadly unwilling to give away any of his riches to the poor as Jesus had suggested he should. He apparently did not trust that by giving such up for “Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s,” he would “receive back a hundredfold – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.” I believe that Jesus was not only declaring a truth that pertained to salvation; but that He was also challenging His disciples to taste everything God has to offer – as it was available to them and is available to us personally.
I’m convinced of this because not long after this incident He gave His followers the lesson of the fig tree, after which He proclaimed: “… whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 records how an honorable man named Jabez asked boldly to be blessed by God, “Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. And under the Covenant of Promise as Paul often referred to the Church, greater are our children, greater is our healing, greater is our success, greater are our achievements than anything Jabez could ever have hoped for.
Extend that thought to anything you have dreamed of in the past. Don’t be afraid. God doesn’t give you a dream, a vision, a desire that He isn’t capable of fulfilling in your life. You won’t be ashamed, you won’t be humiliated and you won’t be disgraced. You will spread out to the left and to the right as God has said. You will spread out and be a blessing and receive a blessing. Don’t look at what you are now; rather, see the image of the person God intends for you to become. See yourself stretching out in the gifts God has given and wants to give you.
God expects His people to stretch themselves and reach beyond their natural ability. You may think you’ve tried all, done all and failed. Get back up, stretch yourself and try again. Remember the words of the prophet Zechariah: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, Says the Lord of hosts.”