Does Jesus Really Give Abundant Life?

What does Jesus mean when he says he has come not only to give us life, but to give us life abundantly? I've pondered this question more times than I can count. Life is filled with pain and destruction and loss and so many tragic, traumatic things. How can your life possibly be abundant when you've just lost a son to suicide, or you find yourself pregnant and alone, or your daughter has entered into a life of substance abuse, or you find out your husband has a porn addiction, or your wife leaves you for another woman, or you suffer daily with chronic pain or fatigue or a strange illness nobody understands, or you've suddenly lost your home to flood or fire, or you have to forgo medical treatment in order to buy food, or you wake up one day and realize you're neck deep in an abusive marriage and wonder how you got there? I could fill a book with scenarios of evidence displaying lives seemingly filled with anything but abundant living. So why do Christians suffer such atrocities when Christ promises abundant life? 

In one of my sociology classes, we studied cultures all over the world. As my view of the world expanded, I began to see a very clear trend. In every culture void of the Gospel, a culture of domination and subservience, of abuse and death thrived. Sometimes the cultures were ruled by the matrons - the female heads of house. But usually, the cultures were male dominant to the point that women and children were possessions. (Bear with me. This is not an anti-male rant.) Women and children were not cherished. They were not respected. They were not protected. They were not human. They were possessions to be used up, abused, and discarded as garbage. However, cultures in which the Gospel was brought in and embraced, women and children were freed from slavery and domination. They became regarded, protected, and even cherished. The culture became safer for all to live. People thrived, communities were built up, and progress flourished. Could this be at least in part what Jesus was talking about? No longer does hatred and arrogance and the evils of men prevail, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ frees us all from such bondage. 
Jesus brings a culture of life where once there was only a culture of death. Jesus brings freedom where once there was oppression. Jesus brings fullness of heart where once there was poverty of the soul. Yes, we still suffer the ravages of sin. Yes, death still takes away our loved ones. Yes, people still get sick and deal with devastating illnesses. Yes, people still commit adultery and still abuse the ones they should love most. Yes, people still suffer hunger and deprivation. Yes, tragedy still comes through the ravages of nature. Yes, people still die at the hands of evil men and sometimes BECAUSE OF Jesus. But with Jesus there is the strength and ability to embrace life in the midst of all its devastations. With Jesus there is hope of a better day. With Jesus there is the ability to conquer in our adversities. It is the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But in the midst of all our trials, distresses, tribulations, and persecutions, Jesus' love gives hope when we would otherwise have none. He frees us from the sin and evil of our own hearts. He gives us faith to believe when there seems to be nothing in which to believe. He gives us love to conquer when hate would otherwise destroy. Jesus gives us life and he gives it abundantly. 

I continue to ponder the mystery of it all. I must continue to remind myself:

what seems to be 
not always is.

I know the character of my Savior. I trust that he never makes empty promises even while I too often struggle to believe his promise over my circumstances. Do you find it difficult to believe Jesus gives you abundant life in the midst of your adversities? What does abundant life mean to you and how do you believe Jesus fulfills this promise in your life?

On the 4th of July

I always struggle to get clear shots of the moon when the clouds are so beautifully framing it. Tonight was no exception. I don't have a fancy camera that can capture glorious shots from such long distances - just my phone camera. This reminds me of when Paul said that though we look through a dark glass now, we will one day see Jesus face to face. Just like my camera phone can't begin to capture the glory of the moon shining through surrounding clouds, neither can my human mind see or understand God as clearly as I want and probably ought.

I've had a glorious four day weekend for the 4th of July, 2017. How I have loved just being mom and taking care of things around the house and cooking and providing for my boys and their friends. I miss being "just a mom." I ache to give my young son the nurturing part of me that I lavished on my older boys when they were growing up. I don't want to just be someone who provides for him. I want to be here for him - not just in body, but in my heart and in my thoughts. I'm weary of having a fractured mind - one that is split into so many directions that I don't have time to stop and attentively listen. However, while I cannot see clearly what God is doing any more than my camera could capture the moon tonight, I do trust and strive to trust more and more that he knows what is best for us and that he will provide all we need for life and breath in order to honor him.

Happy Independence Day!

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

 There are moments, days, sometimes weeks when this is all I can do. Just breathe! Ironically, I don't do a very good job of that, either - hence the necessary steps broken down: inhale, exhale, repeat. It's kind of amazing how words affect us. In one day, this ring has reminded me to breathe several times. In the same way, God's word keeps me grounded by its truth. I ran across these verses the other day. The power in them left me dazed. Even breathless. If ever I ask myself why I am here, what is God's will for my life, I will always be able to find it here.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." Titus 2:11-14, ESV

Oh, what powerful words! As I reflect on them, I realize more and more how selfish I am, wanting my life my way on my terms. Yet, it is Jesus who redeemed me. It is Jesus who purifies me. It is for his purpose I am to live because I am a part of his people. Who am I to tell him how to do his job? I long to be able to submit to my Savior more and more each day, and I know by his grace I will continue to grow in this way. Not simply because I wish it to be so, but because my Savior intends to make it so. That doesn't make my effort to live a godly life any less, but it does make the outcome a sure thing. Oh, the struggle is real, but so is my Jesus.  ~Soli Deo Gloria