Is this Abundant Life?
Small plants in the garden peer at me through the window pleading for the stray weeds to be plucked so they might grow to their full potential. Interestingly enough the window is placed directly over the sink where the dishes of three little people and two bigger people linger endlessly begging to be rinsed and loaded into the dishwasher. And if I dare glance to the right three or four piles of laundry are always present claiming an entire room as their own.
The thought looms over me like a dark cloud. Am I missing out? Is life going on somewhere outside of the four walls of my home? Am I supposed to be doing something bigger than this? Surely I need to be training for the big things God has promised and planned for me. Is this the satisfying life that God was talking about (John 10:10)?
Maybe that same restlessness has settled onto you?
Have you wrestled with the Lord over His definition of abundant life versus your own?
Our problem isn’t that God has not held up His end of the bargain. The abundant life -the joy is there.
John 10:10 (ESV) “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
The first threat that holds us back from experiencing the full life that God has for us is that we have a real and present enemy. He is a sneaky snake. Not showing up as the things we hate, but showing up as exactly what we love. The things we think we need to have to be filled. The bigger house, the smaller waistband, the perfectly cleaned kitchen -the things that we think we must have to feel accomplished. You know the things that we say in our head “If I could just ________ then I could relax. Then I could really enjoy life.”
When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert he stood with him at the very top of a mountain and he offered him the world (Matthew 4: 8-9). The world tells us every day that life is happening without us. That somehow we’re missing out. If we would just trade a little more of our soul we could have more happiness. The idea that joy exists someplace outside of a life with Christ is a lie from the enemy. He is a thief who works endlessly to steal our joy. He is a liar who twists the truth. He deceives us into thinking we are missing out on life, and when we buy the lie we really do miss out on the most abundant life that God has for us.
Recently I was working on a flower bed that had washed out and eroded in our yard. Originally, the plan was to remove the top row and reset the blocks. Easy enough, right? Wrong. As I removed the top row it revealed where the next row had shifted and so on until I reached the true issue. Under three layers of blocks, a tree root had wound its way under the foundation and caused the entire structure to fall. It wasn’t until I had broken up the entire root and ripped it out that I was able to successfully rebuild the border of the bed.
Isn’t it the same with our hearts? The sin of ingratitude creeps in and slowly wedges its way into the cracks of our life until the entire foundation has collapsed. The second threat to our joy is our sinful hearts. When our focus is always looking outward for something to satisfy we miss everything God has given us. We forget how much we truly have to be thankful for, and we miss out on a million moments God designed to give us joy in Him.
How to Fight for Our Joy
Protecting our minds from the enemy and training our hearts to respond with gratitude takes time and practice, but should we have faith nothing will be impossible for us (Matthew 17:20).
Lean into God’s word and armor up every day for the battle ( Ephesians 6: 10-18).
Surround yourself with encouraging and uplifting messages from other believers. One of the best books I have ever read on guarding our hearts and mind against the schemes of the enemy is Jennie Allen’s book “Get Out of Your Head”.
Finally, if you’re like me and grumbling comes more naturally than gratitude I cannot recommend Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts” enough. It is wrecking my heart in all the best ways. Follow her example and pen daily things that you love. Offer it up to God. Bless Him with your gratitude and feel your joy swell.
You won’t regret reading either of these if you too are fighting for your joy in the grind of day to day life. If you’d like to grab them on audio, you can use my sponsored link to get 50% off your first purchase just click here.
Reframing the Daily Tasks to Prompt Thanksgiving
Those small plants, the stack of dishes, and the piles of laundry no longer remind me that I am missing out, instead, they remind me that God has growth for me right where I am planted. They are a reminder to be on guard against the sin that springs up and threatens to stifle my growth. They are a reminder that I have a healthy family and food on the table to eat. They remind me that God clothes us more beautifully than the flowers of the field. I discover I am not missing out at all. This is my training ground.
Friend this is where God teaches us to do the job we were designed to do in the first garden. Work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). Guard it, when that serpent sneaks inside. He doesn’t belong in your garden. We are being shaped right now for a perfectly abundant life ahead in eternity. However, this life is chock full of joy along the way should we tune our hearts to overflow with gratitude.