An Extraordinary Friend in an Ordinary World
by Mike Herrnstein
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, will give you a spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of Him, since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened, so that you can know what is the hope of His calling, what is the wealth of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparable greatness of His power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of His immense strength.” –Ephesians 1:17-19
I’ve been listening to Ephesians lately. Because of health problems this year, audiobooks have replaced reading the text. It’s been an enjoyable way to get into the Word. In a way, I feel more connected to the assemblies of the early church considering our faith has been built on an oral tradition.
Ephesians is one of my favorite epistles. There’s something about the prison epistles and letters (Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon) that speak to me. Sent to churches on the Eastern part of the Roman Empire, there’s more of a mystical quality about them, and Paul was in a very vulnerable place when he wrote them. Paul was writing to encourage his fellow believers. Perhaps he needed to encourage himself as well by keeping that connection to the church alive.
After deciding the above verses would be the subject of this devotion, I wrestled with how best to relate them. A couple nights later while listening to music, I heard Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” play on my smart speaker. Immediately I was taken back to a summer afternoon in 1985 in Phoenix, Arizona.
In a bed in the ICU a few days after suffering a spinal cord injury, I lay paralyzed. The only muscles I could use were the neck muscles that could turn my head from side to side. A ventilator connected to my lungs through a tube going down one of my nostrils that kept me breathing. A feeding tube went down to my stomach through the other nostril. On that day, a nurse asked if I wanted to listen to the radio. Nodding my head, she put on the local soft rock radio station. Interrupting the sound of beeping machines, “Ordinary World” played. It was then the levy broke. A flood of emotion overwhelmed me as I grieved.
The song is about moving on after a lost relationship. Since childhood I had cultivated a physical persona from high school athlete to working a job that required strength and stamina. I took great pride in my physical prowess. It was a worldly self-image that was suddenly, completely demolished and lost.
Life has a way of tearing down our worldly self-images. Retirement, divorce, and health issues have done it to me. There’s always a degree of shame in these changes. Yet every time, there was an extraordinary friend—the One who overcame the world—waiting to pull me to higher ground in this ordinary world. And I think that’s what Paul needed when writing Ephesians, knowing that those receiving his words would need it as well.
Heavenly Father, thank You for seeing us in Your image, as opposed to the images we create for ourselves in the world. Help us to keep mindful that we are Your children first and always. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.