“How was it?”
That’s been a fairly common conversation the past few weeks. A friend will check in to see how work or an event was, and my response has remained the same.
“Rats survive, Holly. People gotta live.”
Those were the first words I read this morning in an email from a friend. His simple quip jolted me into some truth. Life has been all about survival — making it through one thing just so I could get to the next. Wake up. Go to work. Evening event/ministry/commitment. Bed. Then, do it all again the next day. There was no living. Only surviving. And it’s been a weary cycle.
My friend was onto something though. Life is meant to be lived. Abundantly, in fact. According to John 10:10 we are told that “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” God didn’t create us to just survive or just get by day to day.
What is the abundant life then? Before I get to that, let me share some things abundance isn’t.
Abundance is not busyness.
Sometimes we think that if we just did more, then we’d be happy. So we add more and more to our schedules, but no matter how much we add, we’re still stuck in survival mode. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I thought the more I did the more satisfying my life would be. I said “yes” to everything. At one point, I was working over 90 paid hours in one week and volunteering with two ministries, and I was still trying to fill my time. I had no more time to fill!
I’m learning that rest is holy and rest is key in an abundant life. I haven’t mastered rest, not by any means, but I do know rest fills us up in ways striving can’t. There’s nothing wrong with serving, volunteering, ministering or working. Your life will have those things, some out of necessity and some because of conviction, but they were never meant to sustain you. Rest enables you to live abundantly because many of those other areas of life drain you.
Abundance is not about having more.
When Jesus talked about the abundant life, He wasn’t referring to material riches. It may seem silly to bring up, but Christians can struggle with materialism, too. Living in a materialistic world can rub off on us. We can easily get caught up in wanting the newest and shiniest of whatever and even go into debt to acquire it. It doesn’t help that some very popular pastors and leaders model this type of behavior, but I’ll just leave that alone.
I’m not saying having stuff is bad, but if you think having more stuff means having a richer life, then you’re wrong. Living a rich life has very little to do with how much money you have in the bank. Your car could have rust spots and a check-engine light that never goes out, but you could still be richer than the guy with the newest of everything. Jesus proved that by telling one rich young ruler to give up all his stuff in order to follow Him. The man was rich in possessions, and those possessions kept him from living an abundant life.
Abundance isn’t about relationship status.
You can live an abundant life and be single at the same time. Shocking, I know. Listen, I bring this up, like the other two points, because I’ve had these thoughts! I thought if I had a relationship, THEN my life would be full and worth something. Then, hopefully, we’d have some children and then they’d make my life even richer. Marriage isn’t the key to a rich life. Sorry. Just ask some married people. They’ll tell you the same thing.
OK, well, if an abundant life isn’t about those things, what IS it about?
I think the answer is back in John 10:10. Abundance comes from Jesus. The thief takes, drains, steals and wearies, but Jesus comes to give. Abundance means recognizing that Jesus is our source. It’s not found in doing more or having more. It’s not found in a relationship, romantic or otherwise.
It’s found in Jesus.
There’s nothing I can do to bring richness to my life. I can try — and boy, have I — but it has been insufficient. In 2 Corinthians 3:5 we read, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” All abundance. All richness. All fulfillment.
If you’ve been stuck in survival mode, I encourage you to take a moment to rest. I want you to find a few moments with your favorite beverage and a comfy chair and just settle. In that quietness, I want you to remind yourself that Jesus is your source. Ask Him to show you where you’ve tried to do it on your own, and then in a simple prayer confess: Jesus, you alone are my source of abundance and life.
It may seem overly simplistic, but I believe it’s in those intimate moments with Jesus that He can do a miracle. There may be times where you’ll find yourself getting caught up in survival again, and that will be an indication that you need to settle down again. Refocus back on Jesus, and spend some quiet moments with Him.
You weren’t just meant to survive, friend, but to live a beautifully rich and abundant life that only Jesus can give!