Abundant Life
“I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly...”
John 10:10 NRSV
One version of these words of Jesus goes like this: “I have come to give you a full life...” Another is “a filled up life ” and yet another is “a rich and satisfying life.
However you want to take it, what Jesus offers is a life of depth, meaning and purpose. He did not come to fill up life with “things” or with power or influence. He did not come to fill up your calendar with more activity. He came that you might have, well, life. We’re still in Easter season, so a lot of our lessons Sunday are about life after death (the Risen Jesus and the Risen Life). Yet Jesus was not only offering hope in life eternal, but new eyes to see His hands in the world about us and know the joyous gift that it is. One reason He came to be with us was to remind us how much there is to be grateful for each day, each breath and each moment.

Summer is upon us again, though–let’s be honest–summer sprang a little early this year! I wonder if you can carry Jesus’ verse with you into the slower pace this season provides us. I read an article years ago, by author, Anna Quindlen, in which she mused a bit on summer:

“I often wish that everyone could stop what they're doing this time of year, that summer could once again be a time when kids are at loose ends and grown-ups are planning backyard vacations. When I would hear that European countries essentially shut down in August, I would think about how wise their people were. But now European countries are beginning to behave more like us, and we are behaving like us on speed. From the beach, parents text the office; there is a new medical condition called BlackBerry thumb. In the smartest, most thought-provoking film of the summer, the animated 'Wall-E,' one of the humans on sabbatical from a poisoned planet Earth is thrown away from her video screen and out of her motorized lounge chair. 'I didn't know we had a pool,' she marvels as she really looks around for the first time. A good friend says cancer treatment can have the same salutary effect. 'You do a lot of thinking,' she once said, 'in the chemo chair.'” ( Newsweek , Sept. 1, 2008, p. 68).

I don’t think our good Lord gave us our lives to speed up so fast that we miss enjoying the ride. That’s not an abundant life; it’s an overly busy one.

I once saw a brief one-woman play entitled “The Golden Egg.” It began with a little girl who was frustrated with a situation at school and she just “wished” that she could go onto the next grade, when an old mystic appears and gives her a golden egg with a small piece of string hanging out. The mystic told the little girl that any time she ran into a painful, uncomfortable situation–or even a situation she just did not like–she could pull on the string and time would fly.

In no time, the little girl snatched out a section of string and found herself in the next grade! Yet moving forward, faster and faster, was too much of a temptation. Every time she ran into something she did not like, she yanked on that string. Sometimes she pulled too hard. Not wanting to wait for her wedding, she gave it a yank, but missed the honeymoon. When the labor pains came, another yank, but then she missed the first smile and step. When her husband became ill, she could not take it and pulled that string, but then she missed his death and found herself left standing at his grave. When she finally realized what she had done, she tried to back up and stick the string back into the egg, but she couldn't; time really did fly.

Summer is upon us again and I encourage you to invite Jesus to take your life, as you have made it and, in return, give you the life He offers–life abundant, full of gratitude.

A prayer for today
Lord Jesus, You said You came to give life and give it abundantly. Still my rapid pace that I might find joy in living and with that joy–gratitude for each and every moment–indeed, give me a grateful heart for Your immeasurable love and Your innumerable gifts.  Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr.