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-ilities

“…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Luke 11:13a NIV

Studying Latin opens up new perspectives on words. Now I am seeing parts of words, and wondering what they mean. “–ility” is actually a form of the suffix “–ity”, which does have roots in Latin. This suffix is added to stems to indicate its state or condition. A cursory Google search brings up articles about the “ilities of software” and systems engineering. I cannot speak to those “ilities”, as they are using technical jargon, and I am concerned more with the state and condition of my heart.

One day, I was deeply questioning my ability to remain a full-time student. I wrote ability on a blank page of my journal, and other -ility words popped onto the page: dependability, reliability, flexibility and capability. I went on one of my famous definition hunts. It was a rich time. First, the definition for ability turned out to be “the power to do something”. Just reading that definition identified my struggle, I was definitely feeling drained of power. I wasn’t sure if I could keep up with everything, the energy it takes to read, write and think leaves my brain numb and aching sometimes. Kind of like when you start exercising again, and unused muscles let you know they are not too happy about this activity by screaming, ouch, when you try to move the next day.

My search also provided lots of juicy synonyms for ability, such as capacity, talent, know-how, skill, cleverness, potential, knack, expertise and aptitude. My head was spinning with the possibilities. Capacity stood out. It was a nice passive word. It just sits there waiting to be filled. I thought it might be interesting to list all the capabilities my abilities afford me on a daily basis. Instead of actions, qualities surfaced. I realized I have the capacity for love, joy, peace, creativity, expression, empathy and suffering.

As I marveled over the rich quality of life my capacity could provide, I was humbled by the fact that many of the attributes on my list were only authenticated by an outside source. I cannot produce these capacities on my own. I needed supernatural ability. Capacity made me think of a container or vessel that was capable of holding something. I needed to be filled.

In humility, I can go to my sweet heavenly Father, and ask him to fill me with his Spirit. And fortunately that is something he loves to do. And he is more than able. When I look at my ability with humility, I have to admit there are no possibilities without God.

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