Jesus promised us that he came so that we might have abundant life. So, I’ll choose abundant as the only polite word to describe my life over the last three years, with a special focus on the last two months. There has been abundant joy concurrent with abundant heartbreak. Whatever my life has presented – joy, stress, pain, beauty, loss, comfort – it has certainly been in abundance. Of course it hasn’t all been bad, and the bad has been instructive on appreciating the good and accepting anything God sends my way.
Perhaps as a result of living the Life Abundant, there are days when I feel like I’m almost too full. I can be full of deep, almost tangible joy, or I can be so full of dread and sorrow that my feet become lead and every step is an effort of will just to keep moving. Some days, I feel both or everything in between all at once. Not only do I feel like all seven of the dwarves simultaneously, but I can almost taste the duality – sweet and salty at once, like good trail mix. As much as I love to eat trail mix, I am one of those people who will eat one thing at a time from the bag. You can tell when I have been eating from any kind of mixed snack bag because there will be a shortage of a single part of the mix; most of the pretzel sticks or almonds or yellow M&Ms will be gone as I work my way through the bag one item at a time. At dinner, I eat one thing at a time, saving my favorite thing for last. You may have guessed that I don’t multi-task well.
While I prefer to focus on one thing at a time, God is the definition of multi-tasking perfection (Microsoft, take note). And abundant life, among other things, is learning to accept all of life while we work through every circumstance to find God behind them all. I may not understand or even like my circumstances, but that doesn’t matter. My job is not to understand, it is to continue working through the details in a manner worthy of God. For the record, this only happens about a fraction of the time in my life; I desperately want to understand, and I often loudly complain about the circumstances I don’t like.
Although, I have stopped wondering about what lurks around the corner for me. Some people don’t want to think about what may happen next, acting out a superstitious ritual that we have all participated in at some point. You’ve dealt with one difficult thing after another and you start to ask, “What else can possibly go wrong? It really can’t get any worse.” Until it does, and you wish you’d never uttered those famous last words. I’ve stopped wondering about the potential for further disaster because I know it’s going to happen, and I can not only do nothing to prevent it, but I know that the only way out is to trust God through it. I think I’ve heard this described as “protective pessimism,” but it is reality. The existential Life Abundant is both abundantly good and abundantly bad with no promise of good until we have transcended into the eternal Life Abundant. We are promised peace and rest in Christ here on earth, but unadulterated goodness is only possible in God’s presence, and that promise is waiting with open arms in heaven.