This past Friday night, Hugh worked well past dinner time. Plans with friends turned into plans at home turned into trying to wait to put the girls in bed so that Hugh could see them for a second; and I was exhausted. Still in sweat pants, hair and heart frazzled, looking as if I popped two babies out a couple months before but quite aware that we had been doing this routine for almost two years now.
Looks like a party, no?
“…I come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”- John 10:10
Hm. Abundant life. I hear you Lord, but sometimes, sometimes this life feels far from abundant. Sometimes, if I’m honest, I’m much more interested in escaping my own life than basking in it.
As I was re-reading Katie Davis’s book, “Kisses from Katie”, I flashbacked to Friday night, and then it hit me: the moments my life doesn’t feel abundant are the moments in which I am focused on self: my expectations, my plans, my rights. She says it this way,
“We bend. I bend to sweep crumbs and I bend to wipe vomit and I bend to pick up little ones and wipe away tears… And at the end of these days I bend next to the bed and I ask only that I could bend more, bend lower. Because I serve a Savior who came to be a servant. He lived bent low. And bent down here is where I see His face. He lived, only to die. Could I? Die to self and just break open for love. This Savior, His one purpose to spend Himself on behalf of messy us. Will I spend myself on behalf of those in front of me? And people say, “Don’t you get tired?” and yes, I do. But I’m face to face with Jesus in the dirt, and the more I bend the harder and better and fuller this life gets. And sure, we are tired, but oh we are happy. Because bent down low is where we find fullness of Joy.”
Ah. Yes. On Friday, the reason my life wasn’t feeling abundant was because I was making it just that: ‘my’ life. I was not finding joy in serving two precious souls in the most pure way. I was not thinking about Hugh and how long his day must have felt and how I could love him better when he got home. I was not taking the time to pray for someone who is hurting, reach out and encourage a friend, or get in the Word for reminders of truth. No. Instead, I had jumped on the hamster wheel I like to call, “Pity Party”; and I was running around and around and around.
Friends, the reason we have abundant life in Christ is because in His grace He has given us the opportunity to take our eyes off of ourselves and fix our eyes on Him and His purposes. He has designed us to feel most at peace and most whole when we are serving and loving through a Love that is way outside of our own comfort zones and desires. The Enemy and our flesh tells us the more we focus on “me”, the more satisfied we will be. Lies. The truth is, I am a grain of sand on a vast beach, and while God loved this piece of dust so much that He came down and died for me, He did not die for me so that I could spend the rest of my life feeding my own flesh and blood. No. He gave His own life so that I could spend the rest of my time here giving up my rights, my desires, and my wants; and then spend the rest of eternity face to face in worship with Him. It was out of His love that He designed it this way!
But, we cannot muster up this love in our own strength. No. It has to be a perfect love, a Love that knows no boundaries. A love that, like an ever-flowing stream, bubbles up more and more the more we give. Jesus. The world would tell you that, “you deserve” so many different things; God tells us that we don’t deserve anything but that in Christ, we have been given everything. This is one of the greatest miracles of the Gospel: with Jesus, I already have everything. I am completely filled up and completely whole. But, to whom much has been given, much is required (Luke 12:48). But, this requirement is to simply give others that same love that we have been offered; absolutely and wholly through the Strength of the One who breathed and created all things. Always loving a little more, always giving when we feel like we can give no more, and gaining more joy all the more. Quitting our own lives so that God can take the broken pieces and design something more beautiful than we could have ever planned or imagined. Abundant life.
I don’t know what season of life you are in, but I can guarantee that there are moments that things feel too familiar, too mundane, too common. If this is the case, I want to encourage you to, like me, take a look at where your focus in. And beyond that, examine the places in your life that you are living comfortably instead of living surrendered. Friends, spending our lives for that which matters, namely the God of the universe, is far from boring. And, if we are finding life with Him boring, then I would argue we are not finding Him at all. We are called to deny self, to take up our cross, to turn the other cheek, to do all kinds of things that the world would tell us is completely crazy. Does this sound easy? Of course not. But, far from mundane. But, let us not look at what we are giving up, lest we forget what we have gained. The One who gave us all in His Son deserves our all. And,
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”- Matthew 16:26
Loves, our life is but a breath, and I can promise when we stand at the gates of heaven, we will not look back and think we should have done less for eternal purposes. We will see Jesus face to face and know that every sacrifice, every act of love we did, was rags in light of His Perfect Love.
This week, yet again, holds question of potential diagnosis for our girls. It holds a speaking event for me, typical scheduled appointments, and a handful of other somewhat life-changing, extremely exciting, responses pending. My prayer for myself and for you is that I would not keep my focus on the things above, but I would fix my gaze on the One above instead. That I would give until I cannot give anymore; and in those moments, that I would ask for Him to fill me up yet again, and then keep pouring out. You see, we cannot give that which we do not possess; and the beauty of this truth is that as He fills us up, as we overflow, we too experience this Love so deep, so wide. In the midst of any and all circumstances, this is where true life is found. Friends, let’s abandon ourselves to Him today. I want that abundant, exciting, uncomfortable life for me and for you more than I want my own comforts, luxuries, and fleeting pleasures. Press on, my dear. Press on.