“One of my neighbors,” Stan commented one morning, “once told me a story about his trip to visit the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey.”
“Is that where the church was located that Paul addressed in one of his letters?” I asked.
“It is,” Stan replied. “Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is filled with gems of truth as he sought to encourage them, as well as us as modern-day readers.”
“Was there anything your neighbor said about his visit to Ephesus that particularly struck you?” I asked.
Stan thought for a moment and then said, “Yes, there was something my neighbor said that I found quite interesting. He said that as he made his way around the ruins of the ancient city, he ended up in what remains of the coliseum. He sat on one of the stone benches and envisioned the apostle Paul and the impact he must have had on the church. As I have looked more closely at the letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians, I have seen that at least one part has an important impact on my own faith walk.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“In the third chapter of Paul’s letter,” Stan replied, “there’s a powerful prayer that Paul wrote for the Ephesians. It’s a prayer that has many parts, all of which point to Paul’s desire that the readers of the letter be filled with the fullness of God.”.
“Filled with the fullness of God,” I repeated. “Is that something one person can cause to happen in another person?”
“Cause to happen?” Stan said. “I don’t think so. I can pray that for another person, but it’s really up to that person to make some choices which I can’t make for the person.”
“However,” he continued, “I can say as a fact that I regularly pray that prayer for me, that I will be open to choosing to be filled with the fullness of God.”
“You pray that for yourself?” I asked.
“I do,” Stan replied, “and in several ways I see that prayer as falling clearly under the umbrella of pursuing discipleship.”
“As I see it,” Stan said, “a prayer for myself to be helped in choosing to be filled with the fullness of God is a lot like the steps of discipleship of denying self, taking up what God has for me to take up, and following Him wherever He wants to lead.”
“Give me more of what you’re thinking,” I said.
“Well,” Stan replied, “it seems to me that for me to be filled with the fullness of God, I have to first choose to be emptied of self and all that is in the way of being filled with God. Then I have to choose to take up the filling God has for me to take up. Choose to be filled with Him rather than with something else.”
“And then,” he added, “there’s the third step of choosing to follow Him wherever, whenever, and however He wants to lead.”
“Yes,” I said, “and that following will likely lead to being filled with the fullness of God.”
“More than just ‘likely,’ Stan replied. “I would put it in the category of ‘will happen,’ but it all revolves around choices I have to make. I pray the prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians; I pray it for others and I pray it for myself that God will help me with the choices I make so I will be filled with all the fullness He has for me.”
Bible verses to consider: For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19.
And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. John 17:3.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you want me to be filled to the fullness of your presence. Too often I choose to be filled with self and with other things rather than with you. I ask for your help in making the choices that will empty me of my self-focus, choices that will lead me in taking up what you have for me to take up, and choices to follow you wherever, whenever, and however you want to lead. All of this so I will be filled with the fullness of you. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Do you think you can be filled with the fullness of God? Why or why not? If you do think that, what does such filling look like? Is such filling a continuing process, dependent on the steps of discipleship, or do you think that if you are once filled, you will always be filled? In the discussion above, Stan talked about the relationship between the steps of discipleship and being filled with the fullness of God. Do you agree with Stan’s view? Why or why not?