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Life, Abundantly

 I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10

Life. Pulsating, throbbing, vibrant life.  Jesus declared that was his whole reason for his visit to Earth – to give us life in abundance.

He didn’t mean life would be easy, or even that it would be pleasant.  Only that it would be full – full of Him, full of grace, full of peace, full of purpose and mission.

Some of the hardest experiences in my life have been the ones that have given it the most meaning.  I had to climb mountains that left my legs aching only to spend hours at the top under the African sun weeding rice.  I had to give birth to my first baby in a hospital where I didn’t speak the language of the doctors and nurses.  I had to flee a country I loved because of civil war, leaving behind my dearest friends and the work I had poured myself into.  None of those things were fun.  On the scale of difficulty, they ranged from annoying, to frightening, to absolute heart break.  But I wouldn’t trade any of them.  They are part of the fabric of my abundant life.  God gave me those challenges because he’d also given me a mission – to spread his message across Africa.  I was living a life of meaning, as well as one of sweat and frustration.

I’ve endured conflict and hurt at the hands of others.  I’ve had failed friendships just like you. And, I’ve found forgiveness and healing and restoration, because the God of grace has breathed his life over my hurts.

I’ve also had adventure and variety.  I’ve laughed so hard my sides ache. I’ve tasted Asian and African and South American cultures.  I’m married to a man who shares my passion for the missions and ministry.  We have two incredible kids. All these things are blessings from the abundant-life giver Himself.

Abundant life doesn’t mean abundant money.  It doesn’t mean abundant easy circumstances.  It means that through life’s storms, we have purpose.  We have passion.  And we have peace, only a faith-step away, if we will reach out and take it.

Jesus came to give us life, and to give it abundantly.

I am secure

I am Secure in the Storm

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on a rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded the house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded the house, and it collapsed, and its collapse was great!” Matt. 7:24-27 HCS

My husband and I took our baby and fled the civil war in the West African country we loved. All the doctors left the bush country, too, and looters stripped the pharmacies. Then, an epidemic hit our village. The illness, undiagnosed and incurable without modern medicine, killed dozens of children, including the 4-year-old daughter of my best friend, Clarice.

“See?” another African woman told her. “Your Christian faith didn’t save your daughter. The ancestors are punishing you for not worshipping them anymore.”
Clarice straightened her back. “God’s word says the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. Many children of non-Christians died, too. I will not desert my God.”

In her deluge, Clarice was secure.

How can I say that? Her daughter died. Her country was at war. The answer: Clarice was secure in Jesus—not in anything on this earth. She was a woman who truly knew who she was in Christ.

There is a myth in Christianity, I think, that says something like, “If I follow God, he’ll give me a safe, happy, secure life.” But in Matthew 7, Christ made it clear that trials will storm down on us whether we follow Him or not. Jobs will be lost. Relationships will end. Tornados will tear up towns. And civil wars will take 4-year-olds away from their mothers.

Jesus did not promise secure circumstances. He promised a secure foundation – Himself. If we build our lives on Jesus, constructing them with obedience to his commands, when the trials come – and they will – we will stand, secure in the storm. But, if we build our lives on anything else, those same troubles will crush us. I so need to remember this right now, during a difficult season in my own life.

“Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him” James 1:12 HCS

I sure hope I get to attend the awards ceremony in heaven when Clarice’s receives hers.