Sunday, February 20, 2011

Abundant Life

Have you ever been reading the Bible and come across a verse you’ve read a thousand times, but for some reason this time, God showed you something you’d never seen before? I had that experience last week.

I was reading in the book of John, in a different translation that I normally use, and came across John 10:10. I’d read it a thousand times before:

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10

In the past, every time I’d read that verse I got stuck on the second half where it talks about abundant life. I wanted to know what abundant life is, do I have it, how do I get it… and every lesson I’d ever heard or read on that verse discussed the same thing.

But last week when I read it, it hit me. And I hope I am able to explain it the way that God showed it to me that day. That verse is telling me what abundant life is and it’s this: “I am come…”

The fact that Jesus is here – that’s what abundant life is! It’s his presence in my life. It’s not something else that I need to acquire, or something else I need to find or earn, or somehow get a hold of. It’s the presence of Jesus in my life – automatically I have abundant life. It’s Him!

All throughout Scripture God uses the expression “I am” to describe himself. It means something that is happening in this present moment. He says I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the way, the truth, the life, I am love, I am peace, I am strength, I am hope, I am… He becomes whatever we need in this present moment. That’s the nature of who God is.

Jesus uses this same phrase here – “I am come…”

I am here, so you already have abundant life. You have everything you need. Abundant life is the opposite of overwhelming life. God was telling me to open my eyes and see that I already have it. We have abundant life now, in the midst of whatever we are going through. If we have asked Christ to come into our lives and to take over, to forgive us, and to save us – we have
him. That’s everything. There is nothing more I could ever possibly need because everything is met in his presence.

Think back for a minute when you were a kid in school. The atmosphere in the classroom was a certain way when the teacher was in the room and probably a different way when the teacher was out of the room, right? The teacher’s presence made a difference in the classroom, hopefully! But what happened in that classroom when the Principal walked into the room. Everything changed, right? Even if he just stood in the back of the room, didn’t say a word, his presence changed everything. There was a power to his presence. Everything quieted down, every chaotic word or action fell into line, peace and order settled over the room. The Principal, by the authority of his position, was in complete control of the classroom. Nothing was going to happen that he wasn’t aware of or in charge of.

That’s what this verse in John 10 is saying. I am come… my presence in your life brings infinite love, and infinite power, and infinite wisdom, it brings peace, it brings rest, it brings hope, it brings order.

Consciousness of God’s presence is abundant life. I need to constantly be aware of His presence with me. He is in my life. And here’s the thing: God doesn’t get overwhelmed!

The word abundantly, is a Greek word that was used in the marketplace. It was a mathematical word meaning to have a surplus. When you have a surplus it means that you have more than you need. More than you required, or more than you ordered. You have enough to meet your need and then some. Think about the implications of that for a minute.

Let’s reword that verse from John chapter 10. This is my translation:

“Today, my presence is your life, ruling in your world, and I provide exactly what you need, and even more than you ordered.” 

If I am operating based on that truth, I will not be overwhelmed. I can’t be overwhelmed. God can’t be overwhelmed.

And what do you do with surplus? When we have surplus anything we normally give it away. Think about the army surplus store. They are selling the extra supplies that they don’t need. If I have extra cheesecake, I’m going to offer some to you. I don’t need it. I can’t eat it all. If I have surplus I’m going to give it away.

That’s what God wants me to do. As he meets my need, provides what I ask for, then I give the rest out to someone else. If I have prayed for peace this week, God gives me what I need and more because he wants me to take that peace and give it away. Maybe I asked for patience, I can be sure he will give me opportunities to give patience away. Maybe I'm feeling insecure this week, God says, know that my presence is with you; you are secure, now go out and encourage someone else. Give it away.

Recognize his presence in your life, and share it. That’s the path to abundant life.

Friday, February 11, 2011

January 26, 2011

Dear David, Sydneyann, Sarah, and Ashley,

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you how much your encouragement, love, and support meant to me all through my cancer treatment; so that is the purpose of this letter.

I know it was probably difficult for you guys to be so far away and not have the opportunity to follow things on a daily basis. In fact one of the hardest things for me was knowing that in some weird way I had caused suffering and grief for my family.

As I faced decisions about my treatment and my future, the faces of my children were front and center in my mind.  My choice to go forward with IV chemotherapy was based on my desire to live longer with you, and to see more of what God is going to do in your lives.

I carried your pictures with me to every radiation and chemotherapy treatment, and to every hospital stay. You guys were my inspiration. On the most difficult days, in the times when I was scared, and in the moments when I wondered if I could follow through with my treatments, I would pull your picture out of my Bible and remember – I had a purpose and a reason for enduring. You all gave me hope.  The promise of more days and years with you gave me the strength I needed to persevere.

Your cards, emails, letters, texts, flowers, gifts, photos, phone calls, and visits brightened every moment.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for laughing with me and for crying with me. Thank you for playing games with me. Thank you for always looking on the positive side of things.  Thank you for all the things you did to help me. Thank you for understanding when my feelings and emotions were out of whack! And thank you from the bottom of my heart for encouraging and supporting your daddy through it all.

I am so proud to be your mother and to call you my children. Each of you is so incredibly amazing! I love how you pursue your dreams. I love how you strive to make a difference in the world; and how you allow God to use you to do so. 

We’ve made it through the first eighteen months. Three and a half years to go before they will declare me cancer-free. We don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that God is good and His plans for us are good. I pray you will never doubt that.

I love each of you with all my heart.  Thank you for walking with me through the past eighteen months.