7 Verbs of Reorientation

I am currently reading Practice Resurrection by Eugene Peterson.  This is the first book that I've read by Eugene (other then his translation of the Bible, The Message) and I have been blown away by the depth and richness of his writing.  It has been an immense blessing in my life and I'm only 67 pages into the book.

I want to share a section of his writing on Ephesians 1:3-12.  In the original Greek, this entire passage is ONE complete sentence!!!!!  Paul is super excited about what he is writing and I hope by the end you are too:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He bestowed on us in the Beloved.

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

The quotes used in this post are from pages 56-67 of Practice Resurrection.  The direct quotes I use will be in italics.

Euguene expounds on this word by showing that it is used twice in this passage.  The two uses show that we not only bless God but He blesses us.  Our ability to bless begins in God and because of who God is.  This idea correlated with thoughts that I had already been having about the word blessing.  So often, when it came time to "bless" the Lord or be thankful I would have to stop and think, "Okay what can I find within myself to be thankful about?"  It dawned on me this week that I have been invited to join in what is already true, as Jesus said, "If they were silent even the rocks would cry out (Luke 19:40)."  There already is a song of glorious praise that constantly surrounds us.  We are invited to join into the singing, we don't have to conjure something up within ourselves, we just have to join in with what is already true.  The amazing thing is that when we bless God he begins to bless us back - abundantly and without measure.

Eugene points out how so many people have as part of their story the fact that they were never chosen.  They weren't chosen for the basketball team, or for the cheer leading squad, or to play tag at recess...  He disscusses how this lack can become a part of our story and to make up for it we try to find ways to stand out and to be noticed.  But the breath of fresh air, the thing that makes us stop in our tracks and be reoriented in how we operate in this life is by recognizing the fact that we haven been chosen, in fact chosen before the foundations of the world.  You were (and are) wanted, you were chosen before you even knew you existed... pretty profound.

The verb "destine" (prooridzo) derives from the noun "boundary" (oros).  Literally, it means to set a limit, to mark a boundary. 
God sets a boundary in our life for our good, to give us perspective and to help us not be overwhelmed with all the possibilities.  It also shows us where we are going. So where has God destined us to? He destined us to adoption as children of God.  This is your destiny, this is who you are and where you belong.

God bestows grace upon us!  "Bestow" is the noun "grace" verbalized.  In its verbal form it carries the meaning of the noun, "Grace" but also intensifies it to "poured out" or I would prefer "drenched."
"God's grace activated, God's grace in motion - in us.  It isn't our business to figure this out or catalogue it or master it.  Get used to abundance.  God isn't a noun to be objectively defined.  God is the verbing of a noun."
I am overwhelmed with the imagery this word brings and also by the fact that His grace is bestowed on us in the BelovedSo often I talk to people who are beat up, discouraged, feeling like they don't measure up or that God is disappointed in them.  There is a disconnect between those feelings and what God says here: that he has poured out, drenched us in His grace.  We can't get out from under it, we are surrounded by it, we have been given it - in His beloved.

According to Peterson, lavish is one of Paul's favorite words.  What does it have to do with again? Grace.  God has lavished us with His grace.  In case, you missed it when Paul said, he bestows it upon you, he says it again - that he lavishes us with it!

Made Known
God has made known to us the mystery of His will.  "Mystery" here refers to something more like the inside story of the way God does things that brings us into the story... He does this with all "wisdom and insight."  "Wisdom and insight" are knowledge lived out.

This is the story that we embody.  We have been invited by God, in His bestowing and lavishing grace to join in the mystery of His will.  It is not a secret, that He is withholding from us, but rather an adventure that He has called us to partner with Him in it.

Gathers Up
Euguene stops here and looks back at the verses and shows us what the rest of these verbs have been anchored in: "Eleven times, either as proper name or pronoun, Christ is named: "Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:3), "blessed us in Christ (v 3); "chose us in Christ" (v 4); destined us...through Jesus Christ" (v 5); "bestowed on us in the Beloved"(v 6); "in him [Christ] we have redemption through [Christ's blood]" (v7); "according to the riches of his [Christ's] grace" (v 7); "that he [Christ] lavished on us" (v 8); "that he set forth in Christ" (v 9); "to gather up all things in him [Christ]" v 10. 
Remember these verses are one complete sentence, with that in mind Paul says over and over and over again that this life we are invited to live in happens in Christ, through Christ, because of Christ.  He is our anchor, our strong foundation.  It only becomes more beautiful when we recognize that He has invited us in to participate, to be on the receiving end of the length, depth and height of His love.

I entitled this post 7 Verbs of Reorientation because that is what these verbs do for me.  As Eugene points out, it is so easy to get lost in the everydayness of life and just start walking life out mundanely.  But God has invited us to so much more, in Him.  My prayer for you is that you have been blessed by these verbs and that you are excited about the story that you are in the midst of this day.

In Christ,

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