Yogi Berra was a well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron was at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand, and distract the Milwaukee batters on the other. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything, but when the next pitch came he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, “I didn’t come up here to read.”
What are the things that get you distracted from your purpose? There are three things that all of us suffer from that keep us stuck from living our purpose. 1) We sell ourselves short, 2) we lose heart and 3) we lose focus. Paul challenges us to do otherwise in Ephesians.
“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.” Ephesians 3:8-13
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Paul knows that this is what he was saved for! Verse 8 said that he was given this grace in order to preach (verse 8) and enlighten (verse 9). That’s his purpose in life. And he says that he’s the least of all saints. He’s not just being humble, because of his past, he really was. But God delights to use weak instruments to do powerful work. You may have thought that you were a pretty lowly saint without much to offer, but look how even the least of us had amazing things to do for the Lord. What does that mean for you? God didn’t save you for no reason. He has wonderful work for you to do. He has people for you to do it among. Don’t sell yourself short. As Spurgeon said,
“If God has fit you to be a missionary, I would not have you shrivel down to be a king.” CH Spurgeon
Don’t Lose Heart
Paul said that the reason that he went on this 12 verse rabbit trail here in Ephesians is because he doesn’t want his friends to lose heart because he’s suffering. Losing heart is so easy to do. It can happen when you encounter various trials and it can happen when those you love go through them. In this case, it’s possible that the Ephesians thought that Paul’s imprisonment meant that he was never a true apostle and therefore his gospel isn’t true. Or maybe the imprisonment meant that God has dismissed Paul from his office. Or worse, maybe Jesus’ exaltation to cosmic rule is a shattered failure since he can’t even protect Paul from custody and various other unnamed afflictions. This looks like Jesus’ representative has been defeated and his movement has been discredited. How could Jesus reign if his people suffer at the hands of a conquered world?
We lose heart at the same things. When suffering enters into our lives or the lives of those we love we, often unconsciously, start to wonder if God really loves us, or if God even pays attention to our troubles, or if God even exists. You’re not the only one, even the Ephesians wrestled with that 2000 years ago. Like the old southern saying goes, it can be hard when you’re up to your neck in alligators to remember that your goal is to drain the swamp. Don’t lose heart and lose focus of your role.
Don’t Lose Focus
Instead, Paul says that God wants us to have boldness and confidence, because we can access him at any time for any reason and he will take interest and have compassion on we who are now his own kids. There is no way to overstate how much we take for granted that at any moment, we can just say, “Hey God….” What is this amazing privilege that we have? Why do we have it? So that we would use it and be bold in our place among our people to glorify him. I pray that, like Paul, you would be clear and focused in your purpose, totally fearless in your position and ready to get into some trouble! What’s your purpose? Let me know!
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