I keep plenty busy in this season of my life. From the time I roll out of bed in the morning and feed breakfast to my four hungry kids to the time I crash back into bed at night, there is little down time. I keep the calendar. I clean the house. I fill the crockpot. I try to make it to the game on time.
With these constant needs and responsibilities, my life is certainly busy. Yet “a busy life” is not quite what I set out to obtain.
When I was young, I remember hearing a lot about Jesus’ promise to give his followers an abundant life. In my mind, that life would be full of important work and an ever-growing nearness to Jesus along the way. It would feel good and fulfilling. I expected I would enjoy it all the time.
Yet here, a bit further down the road, I find that recognizing and embracing this promised abundance is hard. My life filled up quickly as I grew and a full life is not exactly the same as the abundant life I was hoping for.
I can sometimes sense the void, that stark contrast between what I expected and what I found. This usually happens in the midst of the chaos of the day when I’m about to boil over from frustration or in the quiet moments of the night when I feel the first wave of calm after a busy day. In these moments, I have a brief window of clarity and I have to ask myself, Is this really it?
Is this hectic, overwhelming, obligation-bound life really the abundant life Jesus has offered me?
What the Abundant Life Looks Like
When I think of the word abundance, my mind is drawn to an image of a feast. Food, drink, and good company fill the table. Conversation is friendly and boisterous; laughter fills the room. There is more than enough and everyone leaves with full bellies and full hearts.
An abundant life in Christ is a part of God’s promise to his people. Throughout the Old Testament there is a consistent relationship between Israel’s repentance, God’s forgiveness, and God’s abundant blessings: he provides bountiful harvests (Isaiah 30:23-26); he prepares well-stocked cities (Nehemiah 9:4-25); he created a fruitful earth for his glory and the livelihood of his people (Psalm 65); he promised favor, safety, and the blessing of offspring (Deuteronomy 28).
The picture we see in the Bible is one of a people whose lives overflow with the blessings of God. When they are nearest to him, they experience joy and satisfaction in their generous God and in his good gifts.
Now I, having been forgiven once and for all through Jesus Christ, should be living in this abundance as well, right? That is what I’ve been told. Yet sometimes the evidence seems to prove otherwise. Sometimes my days are more chaotic and frustrating than bountiful and fruitful. Sometimes it feels like God forgot to refill my (proverbial) refrigerator the way he promised.
When Life Disappoints
In those moments of confusion or disappointment, it’s helpful to remind myself of a few things.
First of all, Jesus alone would be enough. If all God had given us was forgiveness through his Son, it would still be more than we deserve and plenty to get us through the worst of our days. I know this, but I need to be reminded.
Also, the abundant life is not something we accumulate or earn over time from God. And it’s not something that only some of us get. It’s the life that Jesus promised to those who would follow him. So, as a follower of Jesus, this abundant life has already been given to me in many ways and at all times. If I can’t see God’s blessings in my life, I might be looking for the wrong things. I need to refocus.
Jesus didn’t stop at saving us. Instead, he welcomed us into so much more—a life in the Spirit, communion with the church, the promise of eternity. Jesus laid this out for us in John 10 when he called himself “the Good Shepherd” and compared the abundant life of his followers to the provision and protection given by a shepherd to his sheep.
During the busiest seasons of my life, my vision gets clouded by busyness and I can’t see what’s right in front of me. In those times, even my greatest blessings—my children, my home, my husband, my church—can feel more like the burden of work than anything else. Recognizing the generosity and blessing of God in my life sometimes requires a change in perspective.
When I step back and refocus, when I look past the distractions and busyness, I start to see a sharper picture of God’s provision and blessing in my life. That’s when the busy feeling gives way to the abundant fullness and I can finally enjoy this life with Jesus the way it was intended.
In this season of my life, these abundant blessings look like the chaos and playfulness of the playground, the quiet closeness of bedtime, the stillness in my moments alone with those I love. These are God’s gifts to me and they are, always, all around me. But it takes practice to learn to see what’s right in front of me and appreciate it for what it truly is.
Abundant and Overflowing
Does the abundant life start and end with me? No! A truly abundant life flourishes and bears fruit. Then it overflows into the lives of the people around it. It’s like the yield of a harvest that is too abundant not to share. We receive it faithfully, with gratitude, and then we pass it along. The blessings multiply. The joy is contagious.
It is the responsibility of every believer to faithfully share Jesus and his blood shed for the forgiveness of sins. But the blessings of God don’t end at the cross; they continue through every season of life—even the busiest or most chaotic. Everything from the deep wells of Christian community to the laughter of a grandchild with his Papa are evidence of God’s abundant blessings for us. Whether he gives us a thousand acres of fruitful vineyards or a chubby, happy baby to call us “Mommy,” none of God’s gifts is meant to be squandered and kept to ourselves. Embracing these gifts means inviting others to the table to share in this feast where there is certainly enough for everyone, enough for full bellies and full hearts.
The Christian life should be characterized by gratitude and generosity. We should be a community known for our shared joy in our extravagant God. In this way, we proclaim the good news of the God whose blessings are given in abundance to his people. And then our life with him will be filled to the brim and overflowing, giving life—abundant life—to those around us.
Liz McEwan is a proud wife, mama, urbanite, musician, and blogger in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow her at The Walking Green and at @thewalkinggreen.
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