Read His Words Before Ours!
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
Did you ever play “King of the Hill” as a child? Whoever reaches the top of the hill first is “king”? We push, pull, and fight our way to the crest, and then fight to remain? Standing high atop that hill, we feel accomplishment, strength, and pride!
I haven’t played that game in many years, but I can easily recall the feelings that accompanied accomplishing a big goal or achieving a milestone. Running my first half marathon, seeing my girls graduate from college, watching my “students” choose to live for God in the face of opposition. More than likely, you too have a list of your proudest accomplishments, when you felt you were, indeed, King of the Hill!
Today’s passage in Romans declares “we are more than conquerors, through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37, emphasis mine). “More than” . . . an interesting word choice, especially considering it was written by the apostle Paul, who was “king of the hill” in his former life. (Philippians 3:4-6) Before he encountered the living God (Acts 9:1-20), he had pride in his status, respect, and plans; his life probably felt right and good.
Until that fateful day on the road to Damascus, when everything changed. Only one verse later, in Philippians 3:7-8, Paul explains, “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ.”
It is so easy to believe we are in control, when in reality, God alone is in charge! After encountering Jesus, Paul willingly walked down his “hill” and gave up his “kingship” for the sake of the one true King, Jesus! It’s highly counterintuitive, but the only way we can become “more than conquerors” is by letting Jesus have His way with us entirely!
Recently, I was blessed with the opportunity to experience first-hand being knocked off “my hill.” While I’d love to say that, like Paul, I gladly walked down the hill, I can’t. My situation involved more of a push by God. (Don’t let my description discourage you, because I’m stubborn, prideful, and uber competitive, and sometimes the only way I’m leaving my hill is by being pushed.)
This year’s end of school was super busy, but also brought many blessings my way. The more I allowed pride to sneak in, the further away from Jesus I walked, and the more physically run-down I began to feel. The push came when I landed in the hospital for several days with double pneumonia. Talk about being rocked! Honestly, I have never felt so weak. I was completely and utterly dependent on my family and the hospital staff.
Laying in my hospital bed the first night as sleep eluded me, an amazing sense of peace swept over me. It’s hard to explain, but I knew God was in control and at work. My worries and anxieties faded away and were replaced by an undeniable sense of divine peace and blessing. I was 100% confident that I was “more than a conqueror, through Him!”
After several more days of recuperation and listening to God, I realized He needed me off the hill I’d made. He needed me back in the place of submission to Him, following Jesus, allowing Him to become my more than! John 15:2 tells us, “He [Jesus] prunes every branch that produces fruit, so it will produce more.” And boy howdy, did my branches need some pruning!
Romans 8:38 goes on to say, “I am persuaded (CSB),” “I am convinced (NLT),” or as the Message paraphrases it, “nothing fazes us” or can separate us from the love of God. Paul wrote with such assurance because, following his conversion, his life drastically changed. Far from the position of stature he once held, 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 describes Paul’s suffering: shipwrecks, repeated arrests, beatings, even being left for dead. Yet his experiences only solidified his belief that God is more than! Sometimes, we see truth most clearly in the midst of hardships; when we depend on Jesus to carry us and bring victory, we can truly learn to allow Him to be King.
I love how John 15:4-5 shares a similar idea, reminding us God is the sole source of power and fruit in our lives. The key to living victorious with Jesus is to remain with Him, and in Him. We have to fight the urge to seize control; His job is to lead, ours is to follow.
Like many of us, Paul too needed that initial push off the hill of his own making. However, as he grew in his relationship with Jesus, he gained a better understanding of working in tandem with God’s Spirit. God is in control; we are not. Thankfully our Father loves us enough to give us that push when we need it!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!