Summary: Our journey of following Christ has it's shares of uphill grinds and downhill free-wheeling. The key is knowing how to deal with both of these times
After I-80 replaced old highway 40 over Donner Pass the trip to Reno from our house got a bit easier. It easily cut the time in half but it also made for some interesting driving strategies for those on the drive. Do you remember those 1965 VW's bugs? When we drove Donner pass with one the bug raced down the hills. Their engines would scream as they floored it down the road. My dad didn't try to keep up with them. He just got out of their way and let them go. He knew he'd be passing them up when they hit the upgrade just ahead. They didn't have the power or speed needed for a consistent drive.
How often have we found ourselves going through life like those VW buts—underpowered, running wide open then barely moving? Jesus knew each of us would find times in our life that was like that. We read in the gospel how God has given us a resource when we are poor, hungry, weeping, or hated. The answer comes in looking far forward to the time when as Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:9-10,
"And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." NIV
Likewise Paul's prayer is a prayer for us as we careen along this road called life. It is a prayer for consistency in our journey with Jesus. He hits on themes he's written about just prior to this and he continues his aim at helping us see the power and majesty of our God who loves us more than we can understand.
Paul's prayer is for wisdom and insight. He linked wisdom and understanding in verse 8 and here spiritual wisdom is tied to our knowledge of God but its purpose is that we might "know him better". This knowledge Paul desires for us is best summed up in Roone Arledge's line from ABC Sports, "up close and personal ".
This prayer is answered by having our spiritual understanding, a practical knowledge and reasoning, continue in us through God's work. Translate the word "heart" in scripture as "brain" or "thinking". Contrary to the spirit of Valentine's Day, the heart is never viewed as the seat of emotions for Greeks or Jews. What God's done for us in Jesus, that is, opened us up to see and understand His mystery in Christ now continues to have an effect in our lives.
That effect involves our realization of HIS calling. In verse 12 hope was the action of the believer but here hope is the object. It is "God's hope". It is a hope that leads to God's outcome and purpose the kingdom of God, the second coming, the riches we've had laid up for us in heaven and all the rest. One cannot equate hope and wishing in the Bible. Hope is certainty. Hope is assured. God's hope will become reality.
The effect of clear thought has us grasp the truth that we are God's inheritance. In the section before we read about "our" inheritance but Paul makes it clear that we are God's possession. It's not about what God gives us. It's about the fact that we literally belong to God. For those of us coming out of the Reformation of the church in the 1600's it is this truth that leads us to make such strong statements about "covenants". God's truth, his covenant with us is a binding force that ties us to him in spite of our sin and failure. And it promises us hope when we find we've broken the covenant because God is ALWAYS faithful.