I have been working my way through Be Still and Know by Millie Stamm. It is a year long devotional written by a lady who was a dear friend to my grandma. The daily readings have a depth that I find lacking in a lot of devotionals and I have enjoyed the first several months of readings. The copy I have is an old, tattered, hand-me-down from my grandma. It is such a joy to come across her notes and underlinings. It’s a great reminder of who she use to be before Alzheimer’s snuck in and stole her away.
I digress. The scripture reading for today was John 10:10, “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” I thought I had a pretty good handle on this passage. I can attest to the death and destruction that Satan desires for my life and I cling to the hope of Christ’s offered life in abundance. Then came the conviction. (I feel like this is a recurring theme in my life…like seriously, how many stories could be shared and then after a brief pause be followed with “…and THEN came the conviction…” I’m actually laughing to myself right now as I type…) Ahem, back to this morning’s conviction. Ms. Stamm writes:
“Every Christian has eternal life, but not every Christian has it abundantly in his daily experience. Abundant life is the life of Christ filling us to overflowing in every area of our lives. Any lack is not on His part in giving, but our part in possessing.”
Um, ouch. In the words of the great Jon Bon Jovi, “Shot through the heart…”
When you lose someone, the normal and natural reaction is grief and grief pretty much feels like death. There is a shift in priorities. Sometime that shift is good and sometimes it can be bad. There is a certain isolation and loneliness. There is a very physical response to grief which results in exhaustion, sickness, laziness. There is so little that brings relief from the misery of grief and even the relief itself is taxing. When the Lord created human beings, I truly believe He created us to grieve, to moan in sorrow and to experience the depths of suffering. He didn’t expect us to slap on a happy face and deny the gut-wrenching agony of loss. Jesus himself wept at the loss of his friend Lazarus.
So where am I going with this? I find myself in a spot where I am trying to reconcile my God-honoring grief and living life in abundance. Even in the valley of losing Macy, the Lord has been giving me life abundantly. It’s here that I find myself in an awkward, exposed and even embarrassed realization- I am struggling to do my part in possessing abundant life. I’ m not just struggling. I’m outright refusing. There is an indignant part of my heart that doesn’t want to make the effort. Deep down I feel entitled to a trouble-free existence. It’s terrible and I am ashamed but there is something (human nature? selfishness?) within me that feels like I have given so much to God, including my daughter, that I don’t owe Him any more. And it doesn’t stop there….I feel, think, act like He owes me. “I have given you this, this and this God. Now you owe me a life without financial hardship, I deserve a winning personality that draws people in and you should never allow my children t0 disobey or exercise their own sinful will.” Ugh. Just typing that and acknowledging such ugliness in myself is enough to make me sick.
So, what happens when a bill comes in that we can’t pay? How do I respond when my introverted awkwardness is exposed? What about those darling, willful children of mine? What is my initial reaction to my husband’s humanness? What happens when I don’t get what I think I’m entitled to? It’s not pretty, folks. That abundant life of abiding joy, peace beyond understanding, wisdom and patience in all circumstances? Nah, I throw my fist up in anger and tell Him that it isn’t what I want, that I need more comfort and less trouble. I have a choice- join with Him in abundance or join with the thief. In all things, God is providing His life but in most things I am doing a terrible job of possessing it. Lord, I confess this. I need You more and more and I need me less and less. Show me how to choose your abundance in the midst of grief’s chaos. Come, Lord, come.