For many years one of my favorite verses has been Ephesians 3:20-21.

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us – to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

It’s a feel-good verse. A promise to us who are believers in Christ that God can do anything.

Anything.

Up until recently I glossed over a pretty important word in that verse.

Because really, it is a positive word, so it was easy to not give any real thought to it.

Able.

By definition, able means having the power, skill, means, or opportunity to do something.

The word able in this verse reinforces what we already know about God. He really is able to do absolutely anything.

Absolutely everything.

Pretty incredible, right?

However, that little four-letter word in there that’s so easy to miss needs our attention.

Able.

Friends, there are a lot of things you and I are able to do but choose not to.

Selfish things. For instance, I am physically able to get out of bed at 5:00 every morning to spend time with the Lord before getting dressed for work. But I don’t always do it, instead choosing extra sleep followed by a flurry of hair and makeup and prayer time in the car on my drive in.

Not good.

And then there are times when it’s best to choose not to do something. As parents, Brian and I are able, for the most part, to fulfill just about every request our boys dream up. We could fill their closets with expensive clothes and shoes, deck their rooms out with all kinds of technological awesomeness, and load their wallets with cash, indulging their every whim.

But we don’t. For one, we’d be broke. And for two, we’d have three spoiled kids with no concept of the value of money and the satisfaction of working hard towards a goal.

It’s hard work instilling a strong work ethic and appreciation in them, and honestly there have been times it has felt so much easier to just give them what they want instead.

But it’s definitely not better for them.

There’s no doubt these practices have helped raise three young men with a healthy respect for work and the value of saving money, and we’re starting to see the benefits of it in them. One of those ways is that we require they have a job starting at age 16. Even if it’s just 10 hours a week.

We’ve had friends balk at that, stating it’s too much, too hard on kids today, but evidence points otherwise.

Just a couple years ago our oldest son thanked us for making him work during high school, admitting that he wasn’t thrilled at the time and it was especially tough when very few of his friends had to work, but he now sees that the ones who had jobs like him are managing college and their money much better because of it.

Also, it’s extra fun to surprise them with something special when they least expect it. In 20 years of parenting, we’ve learned that treating every day like it’s Christmas or their birthdays is a quick way to make nothing feel special at all.

So yes, we might be able to grant their every desire, but what a disaster it would be for them.

We love them far too much to settle for that.

God works the same way, but with so much more wisdom. He knows what is best for us.

He is molding and shaping us in His image with the end game in mind – not to fulfill our momentary wishes.

He’s not some magic genie sitting ready to indulge our every earthly desire.

No, He loves us far too much for that.

There are things I’ve been praying about for years, pleading with the Lord to make a reality. Things that really seem like good things. God-honoring things. Nothing material, but dreams I know God has placed in my heart and relationships I long to have healed.

I don’t understand why He hasn’t given me a yes.

And I honestly don’t know if His answer is a no or just a not yet.

But here’s what I do know: He is able to do anything. He is able to do these very things I’m praying for, and if He’s choosing not to yet or ever, He has very good reasons.

I don’t doubt that for a second.

Reasons that are for my ultimate good and His glory.

Does it hurt? Yes. Do I still trust Him? Also yes, even when it doesn’t make any sense at all.

He knows us better than we know ourselves. And He wants the best for us.

He also knows that “best” doesn’t come easily. But He knows it’ll be worth it.

In Him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. {Ephesians 1:13-14}

See? End game stuff.

This incredible, all-knowing, all-powerful God sealed us with the promised Holy Spirit.

As the down payment of our inheritance.

Until our redemption.

Read that again.

If He loves us enough to give His son to die for us, to seal us with the Holy Spirit, to make a home for us in Heaven, then I think we can trust Him with the stuff of earth.

Perspective, right?

You can trust Him. I promise.