I came that you may have life and have it abundantly! – Jesus
I have long loved this passage from John 10 and enjoyed preaching and pondering upon its meaning. I have also found that there is confusion and widely divergent interpretations on what comprises this abundant life that Jesus is offering. My hope always is that the change of pace in summer can provide a time to reflect both upon what typically fills your life and what makes life fulfilling. While Jesus is clearly speaking about the fullness of life in relationship with Him and awash in grace, there are times we convince ourselves that abundance is found in more of what we desire most. That, however, is often not true. Here is what I have learned:
A life filled full is not always a life fulfilled. A calendar filled full means nothing in and of itself, but it is the nurturing of relationships, the times of discovery and growth, the going beyond yourself and your needs to serve and know others that will cause your cup to overflow with goodness and mercy. It is the empty spaces on your calendar…the places of rest, play, Sabbath and quiet…that God often uses to equip and prepare you to see and discover abundant life. The absence of empty spaces on your calendar is a threat to abundance AND life.
Strange things happen to one’s attitude and outlook when life is filled with an overabundance of activity or things. We develop a mindset of scarcity. We become focused on what we don’t have, what others have, how to protect and conserve what we do have (at all costs), and we start behaving with growing resentment, arrogance, self-righteousness, and ignorance. The heart turns inward and we can’t see the forest, let alone the trees.
The abundant life Jesus described for us is filled with paradoxes: a) a joy that is not dependent on our being happy b) a love that is not dependent on being lovable c) a hope that grows stronger in the face of adversity d) a faith that is not afraid of but grows through doubts and e) a wealth and a richness that comes from giving away, letting go, and laying down one’s life for others. As a matter of fact, sometimes, it is the pursuit of happiness that robs us of joy. The avoidance of risk and adversity that cheapens hope. The practice of being loving only towards someone when we like them that makes relationships thin and fragile. And the fear of honestly admitting doubts that makes a mockery of faith. And sometimes, it is our gathering in, hanging on to, and focus on the unholy trinity of me, myself and I that makes us truly poor.
My prayer for you this summer and always is that, regardless of circumstance and happenstance, you create spaces for sabbath and worship, reflection and celebration and dig deeper into what the abundant life Jesus offers leads you towards and brings you joy.
Blessings and peace!
(Pastor Dave’s favorite definition of “abundance”: what a hamburger does at its high school prom.)