Monday, February 15, 2010

There's that word "abundant" again

John 10:10
"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." - Jesus

I think about this verse a lot, mostly because life usually does not feel abundant. It feels more like I'm simply surviving. And I don't mean "abundant" in a financial sense. The New Living Translation of the Bible subs in the phrase "rich and satisfying." How often does your life feel rich and satisfying? I'd bet the occasions are the exception and not the rule. But look what the verse says: for us to have abundant lives is the reason Jesus came! And in reality, most of us just try to make it from one day to the next. When I get into survival mode, God always reminds me about this verse, and I know immediately that something is not right. This is not all God has for me.

That word "abundant" is used a LOT in the New Testament. It is used to describe many aspects of our lives and the things we have if we are in a relationship with Jesus (search the word for yourself at one of my fav resources And many times I do feel like I'm thriving...when I am patient with my child on a really hard day....when I share something personal with a friend, knowing it may help them....when I can quickly regain peace after a mini-disaster (like last week when I knocked over an open bottle of vegetable oil and heard it glug-glug out onto the kitchen floor several times before I could upright it. Oil doesn't really wipe up, by the way. It just moves around.) So yes, I know I've experienced abundant life at times, but I still want more. We're promised more.

Something I read tonight gave me a hint about what hinders our living abundant lives. We want to feel safe, and living safe lives produces shallow faith. This book I was reading continued to state the problem, that "...Jesus isn't safe, but He is always good. On the inside of His goodness, He offers a safe haven for a dangerous life to be lived out." It is so my human nature to say (with sarcasm), "Yes please! Sign me up for that dangerous life!" And miss the whole point. I know that dangerous with Jesus is like walking a tightrope with a net right below you; it just feels dangerous. The bottom line is that taking risks with Him is the only way to an abundant life.

Risk with Jesus always involves giving something - your time, your talent, your heart - that He will leverage for someone else's (or your own) benefit. One risky thing I choose to do is write. And the fact that this blog could potentially be read by more people than I've ever written for in the past makes it feel dangerous for me - really dangerous, if I let myself think about it. Criticism, rejection, and apathy are all realistic possibilities. But I want "rich and satisfying" to describe my days; I want the abundant life, not just survival. In God's economy, giving that small thing you have to give is somehow multiplied into more than enough "rich and satisfying" to fill one's heart.

Also super risky are marriage and parenting, if you are truly engaged in those relationships. Withdrawal, excuses, preoccupation, and avoidance all ring of self-protection. If I am walking in the knowledge that God protects me, that He is my ultimate advocate and that I am defined more by Him than by others, I have no need to hide in my relationships. There is a freedom in this perspective, and one really can't approach abundant living without seizing freedom along the way.

Some other tightropes I'm trying to walk right now:

* continuing to offer grace and love to my husband when I feel hurt and misunderstood

* inviting my friends to church

* signing up to spend a week of my summer leading a group of 2nd graders at Vacation Bible School

* being a more gracious parent

I really have no desire to skydive, manage an aggressive portfolio in the stock market, or put my chips on the table in Vegas, which are all fine things. But for me, this dangerous living of the heart is thrilling enough.

1 comment:

  1. The part where you write about taking risks hit a chord with me. Just recently, I was talking with a friend about lovingly allowing our children to face their fears (especially those irrational fears) in order to give them the opportunity to become bold and courageous. What is God lovingly allowing me to face in order to make me more bold and courageous in my faith?