“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10b
Over the past few weeks a question has been repeating over and over again in my head. That question is “What does the abundant life look like for me?” This has certainly been a question that has popped up every now and then in my life. For the past few weeks it has been more present and quite frankly more annoying than ever before. I feel this question being asked throughout my entire being. The very fact that I’ve been having trouble answering this question often leaves an unsettled feeling in my gut. In previous years I’ve been able to simply ignore the question and move on. My current position in life however almost seems to be forcing me to engage this question more deeply.
The newest manifestation of this question was no doubt prompted by a sermon I preached on John 10:1-10. That passage ends with the words that sit at the top of this post. In the passage Jesus declares “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” We find a deeper meaning of this passage by reading about the healing of the blind man in chapter nine of John’s gospel. By reading about that encounter we see that “being saved” is not merely relegated to salvation from sin or securing an eternal place for ourselves, there is more. As one commentator put it, Jesus doesn’t only save us from something, he saves us for something. The blind man before his healing was unable to participate fully in community life. In healing the blind man, Jesus saved him from the margins. He was now able to live a much fuller life (although the Pharisees still tried to snuff that out) and in the end he was a testimony to Jesus’ amazing work.
Part of the answer to my question is found in the fact that the abundant life I seek will come through Jesus. In calling Jesus, Lord, my life will ultimately be changed, allowing for the possibility of that abundant life. That happens across the board for everyone but there is also something specific about our salvation. I think the abundant life has distinct properties for each and every one of us. I’ve seen people living the abundant life and I want that but not in the way that they have it. I can’t live the abundant life as a singer because I don’t have that gift (although I dream about it all the time). In fact, I think I have tried to live the abundant life through other means that have left me feeling more empty than I did before.
I’m sure many of us have had the same experience. Christian singer Stacie Orrico had a song a few years back titled “There’s Gotta Be More To Life” in which the chorus went,
There’s gotta be more to life…
Than chasing down every temporary high to satisfy me
Cause the more that I’m…
Tripping out thinking there must be more to life
Well it’s life, but I’m sure… there’s gotta be more
Coming out of high school I was fixated on finding the career that was going to make me the most money so that I could buy a BMW Z3, a big house, and everything I ever wanted. I wanted the life that almost every rapper has flowed about at least once in their career. In my mind, money was going to provide me with an abundant life. Every now and then I find myself daydreaming about winning the lottery or landing a job with Joel Osteen so I can have lots of money. Yet, I know that wouldn’t give me an abundant life only a comfortable life.
My desire for an abundant life has also included cheering on my favorite sports teams. There was a time when my days were made or broken by how my teams performed. I think somewhere deep inside I still believe my abundant life includes witnessing the Cubs win a World Series. (insert your own joke here) I have poured countless amounts of energy and time into watching and rooting for every Chicago sports team sans the White Sox. Surely I’ve experienced some joy in seeing some championships won but even that feeling is temporary.
There are other ways in which I’ve tried to live the abundant life that I won’t go into but I think you know where I’m going with this. So, here I sit, still pondering that same question about the abundant life. Where is it? How will I find it? Running alongside these questions are my daily readings in Richard Rohr’s “The Naked Now“. I think these readings have stirred my soul and brought the question of the abundant life to the surface. Maybe my answers will be found in joyfully surrendering to God. Releasing my need for control and letting God do what God does. Not in a passive sense but releasing that tight grip that I want to have on everything in life. As Rohr puts it so beautifully,
“We know we did not do anything nearly as much as we know we were done unto. We are being utterly and warmly held and falling helplessly into a scary mystery at the very same time – caught between profound desire and the question, “Where is this going to take me?” It has been said many times that, after transformation, you seldom have the feeling you have found anything. It feels much more like Someone found you. “1
Perhaps someone out there is asking themselves the same questions. Scratch that, I know there are other people out there asking the same questions. I see people blindly searching for the answer, holding on to anything they bump into. Merely living, or better yet surviving, and wanting something more. This time I hope I won’t push the question away and find another distraction. I hope you won’t either.
1 Rohr, Richard. (2009) The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See