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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

My Ebenezer Box: Above All

by Marilynn Chadwick

To hold onto hope, we must learn how to guard our minds against “hope killers”—those pesky predators that seek to destroy our God-given dreams as well as our peace of mind. One of the most troublesome hope-killers is anxiety. Like a slow leak, anxiety drains our faith. It fills us with a low-grade dread that steals our joy. Mental health experts are disturbed by the growing numbers of those suffering from anxiety—now the most common mental illness in the United States.

I've discovered a simple prayer that helps quench my anxiety and build hope. I call it “praying beyond” the problem. It goes something like this: Lord, I trust you to answer my prayer in a way that goes beyond what I even know to ask. In other words, "Surprise me with more than I can imagine." This prayer is right in line with the Bible's encouragement to trust the One “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20 MEV). Praying beyond the problem helps me take my focus off the obstacles and fix my mind on God's promises. 

Once I was out of town for one of our son Michael’s swim meets, I happened to read Ephesians 3:20 before going out for my morning run, this time in a different Bible version. The words put a fresh twist on my “praying beyond” concept: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think...”  (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV). Above all. Another way to “pray beyond.” 

While running, I reflected on Michael’s dreams to be a collegiate swimmer—a dream which looked like a long shot. The competition for scholarships was fierce. Lord, maybe you're encouraging me to pray as though I’m high above my problems, looking down on them from your vantage point. I was reminded of another verse that promises God has raised us up “with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6 NIV). I continued talking to God as I ran. Lord, from where you're sitting, I imagine my dreams seem easy. I believe that nothing’s too hard for you. I truly want to believe you’re able to do above all I can ask or think. 

I rounded the corner and jogged by several swim team charter buses. I nearly laughed out loud as I looked at the name on the side of one of the buses: Above All Charters. Another sign from God? I’m pretty sure he was making his point loud and clear. He is able to do exceedingly above all I could ask or imagine. So why do I ever need to worry?  

I wrote down “Above All Charters” on a notecard and stuck it in my Ebenezer Box as a gentle reminder to squash “hope killers” and to trust. A simple, but profound lesson that God taught me while going for a run one day. Keep your eyes open. You never know what you might see. 

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