Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Abundant Life

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: 
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
—John 10:10

I believe any objective observation of a person’s life could be said to conclude in two ways—that the individual has had an abundant life in Christ or that an individual has had a life that has been destroyed by years and years of poor choices. The broad strokes of one’s existence may not clearly illustrate one or the other kind of life at first, but if we look closely into that person’s canvas, we can see the details of his or her life as the paint dries. We begin to understand what those details say about the kind of life that person has lived.

In the verse above, we see Jesus offers not only life, but life "more abundantly." The thief, however—that great counterfeiter of God, the father of lies, and enemy of our souls—steals away the blessings of God on a person’s life, kills a person's joy, and I believe the Bible says, brings them sooner to physical death. (Romans 6:16)

As I have meditated on John 10:10 over the years, I feel so very blessed by what God has bestowed upon me despite the past destruction I have allowed in my life. When I gave my life to the Lord in my early twenties, I believe that was precisely when God began to grant me His abundant life or at least when I began to recognize it. I felt this life in my soul as I praised the Lord for the big and little experiences He gave me as I learned more and more about Him. I often sung songs of praise to Him as I walked to school or other destinations. I called these my prayer-and-praise walks with Jesus. Witnessing was effortless because I was just so full of my Savior and His love. Earthy blessings were many, as well, but I believe that was just a small part of the abundant life He gave me. The abundant life is a full life in Him, as we learn our place in His divine plan and yield ourselves to it.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying there aren't times of discouragement, sadness, and temptation in an abundant life, but I am saying the overall impression of such a life is full of beautiful colors and gorgeous textures on a canvas of His design.

Then, there is the destroyed life, which results as a consequence of our not only choosing sin, but remaining in it. When we feed our flesh and let our lives be full of the sinful parts of our natures, it only leads to our destruction. This is the kind of life Satan wants to keep us in bondage to, so that we don’t experience the wonderful truth and reality of God’s abundant life.

Over the years, as I've meditated on this verse, my heart hurts for those who have tasted God, who are born again, but who are seduced back into bondage to the elements of this world Satan then uses to destroy them. (2 Peter 2:19) I am very sad for those who choose over and over again to follow the philosophies of the thief toward their destruction, rather than follow their merciful Savior, Who healed and released them from this bondage upon their salvation.

Now, I realize a person’s life is not this black and white. My life, for example, has many gray areas, the shadows of a painting, let’s say, that are just as much a part of my overall experience in Christ. There may be periods of quiet, when I really don’t feel this abundance of God. I also choose to get under bondage again to those sins that easily tempt me. I believe, however, that living an abundant life before God is experienced again when I repent of my sins before Him, including any lukewarmness toward Him, and ask His forgiveness.

I know my canvas has moments of both abundance and destruction in it. But, I believe, when one looks at the overall painting of my life, they will observe a person who has and is experiencing the abundant life God promises His children. This is not because of me, but only because of Him and His grace and His mercy.

And I love Him for it.

I pray that we will not be Revelation 2:4 Christians who leave their first love. Jesus wants so much more for us. Let’s let Him take our lives and paint wonderfully abundant pictures of His love upon them.

Two Romanian Women
Onesti, Romania (May 2005)

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