Life Abundant

Have you ever wondered if there is more?  We tell our kids to reach for the stars and then often turn around and live lives of mediocrity.  We have everything we could possibly want or need in North America, yet we are dissatisfied.

I often hear people say they are just existing. Somehow there is the sense that we are missing something. We are failing to thrive. We covet more, more stuff, more experiences, more accomplishments thinking it will fill the hole. The dissatisfaction. The longing for more. For many there is a deep, persistent inner disatisfaction.

I watched a video of Christians who were turned out of their city. They had three options. Convert to Islam, die or run. Whatever they tried to leave with was confiscated. They left with the cloths they wore and nothing else. As they were interviewed, over and over their eyes shone with joy. In the midst of an over crowded refugee camp, living in tents, sleeping on cots, they absolutely beamed with joy. They had Jesus and each other they said and that was enough.

The question was asked at bible study this week, “What does it look like to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?” “Who are you when you are teaming with love for God? What do you want to do right then?”  I wonder, how many of us have experienced loving God to that extent? I have, just not as consistently as I could. I wonder if we have been in touch with what we want to do in that moment we are flooded with love for God?  I have a whisper of an idea, not fully formed.
I have often thought that the devil doesn’t have to do much in America. It is all set up for him. We can be so easily distracted from pursuing God and loving him with all our heart, soul and strength. We have phones attached to us at all times. We can access the news, the weather, games, social media. Anything to keep us from boredom or solitude. There is Netflix, cable, music, books, hobbies. 
We don’t ever have to have a quiet moment or even face our withering souls because we can pack some kind of distraction or entertainment into every waking moment.  The devil doesn’t have to trip us up and distract us from God because we are already doing it. We are doing it well. As I watched the video of those Christians who had lost all earthly things, some of them lost loved ones, I saw what I want more of. In the midst of all that they suffered, their joy cut straight to my heart and I wanted it. 
They didn’t waste energy being angry at God, something I have often done in the midst of struggle. They just clung to him and lit up the screen with a joy that was beyond human comprehension. Jesus was the source of that joy. They said so and I could see it.  I wonder, would joy shine on me in that situation? Would Jesus be enough for me in that?
The question also came up, “Have you ever been around someone who loves The Lord deeply and is in the center of his will for them? How does that impact you?”  I have had that pleasure few times in my life. My parents love for God is deep and real and impacts me greatly, their lives have created a hunger for God and his word in my life. My husband does the same. To be honest, often I find that inspiration in the books that I read. Bill Hull, Dallas Willard, John Ortberg. 
Recently I was caught off guard by a video of Jim Caviezel. As I watched, I saw a man who was daily struggling to love Jesus truly.  Spending time with God and spoke with a passion and deep love for God. As I listened it became clear that for him, the bible was a treasure. For him, it was a priority to know the Bible well. I was impacted by the video presence of a man who clearly had been with close with Jesus. I saw the gentleman interviewing a him kind of squirming in his presence the way Oprah did when she interviewed Billy Graham.  It made me think of how the Israelites reacted when Moses came down the mountain from meeting with God. 
Exodus 34:29-30 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his faceshone, and they were afraid to come near him.
It shows on us when we are with God. It shows on Billy Graham, and I was stunned to see it on this actor.  Being with Jesus changes us. I didn’t find it uncomfortable watching Jim Caveizel, maybe because I had that degree of separation, I wasn’t actually in his presence.  I did however recognize that he is someone who spends a lot of time with Jesus and listening to him made me want to spend more time with Jesus. Not just want to, deeply crave to.  Not just a little time but a lot of time.
Jesus came so that we could have abundant life. In John 10:10 he says, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” There is more, so much more for us! Life to the full happens when we love The Lord with our heart, soul, mind and strength. It happens when we are in the middle of his will for us and in the Bible. True satisfaction is there for the taking, yet I often settle for cheap substitutes. 
The video of Jim Caviezel followed closely by the video of persecuted Christians were a challenge.  God talking to me. Waking in me a desire, a desperate hunger for more. I knew after seeing both of these videos God was calling me deeper.  They came right after finishing the book SoulKeeping. 
John Ortberg talks of being with Dalas Willard, another spiritual giant, near the end of his life. Someone asked Dallas if he had any regrets. He answered “I regret the time I have wasted”.  That shook me hard. If Dallas Willard had regrets of wasted time, I’m in trouble. Deep trouble.
Ortberg continues quoting Paul in Ephesians 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you liveā€”not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Dallas said that we hunger because the life we could be living far exceeds our strangest dreams. God is calling me deeper, there is life, fullness of life waiting for me. 
The challenge is how do I stray focused amidst the crazy distractions of this world? I already regret the time I have wasted. I don’t want to also regret not changing that when I had the chance. I want to use my time to reach for all I can. 
For me, making the Bible a priority in my life is the first step. Then, surrounding myself with people who are striving too know and love God well. It may be through books, video, or hopefully through people who are in my life. Meeting with my Spiritual Director is important.  Spending time in solitude, seeking God, loving and listening to him is critical. As I give more and more of my time to this, fullness of life comes to me with quiet, satisfying, sublime beauty.  That is where I find satisfaction. That is where I find fullness of. life. That is where the adventure begins!

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