When I was in elementary school, I wanted glasses so badly. Yes, I was that kid. I’m not sure what it was that I thought I would gain by having them. Maybe I wanted to seem older, more mature or maybe they would help me to be taken more seriously. Every time I would go to the eye doctor for my yearly check-up, I would leave disappointed when my eyesight wasn’t bad enough to warrant a prescription for eyeglasses. Then, that glorious day in 5th grade, my dream came true. I was a kid in a candy shop…only this ‘candy shop’ displayed hundreds of frames to choose from. The day I first put on those new glasses I experienced a whole new world *queue the Aladdin soundtrack.
The drive home that day must have been…well, let’s say ‘entertaining’ for my parents. I’m pretty sure I read out loud every street sign, billboard ad and licence plate number within my new found eyesight. I mean, I’ve seen trees before but this time I could see more than a greenish blob. Every individual leaf seemed to scream “look at me!” Having these glasses changed how I saw everything! There was so much joy in the clarity I had gained. I knew it was something I wanted but I didn’t know it was something I needed.
In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Out of all the promises God has for us, this one has always stumped me. Of course abundant life sounds amazing and yes, I want it. But how do we actually have it? This has been something I’ve been pondering since this time last year. Here is what I’ve learned.
Abundant life is for right here and right now. We live in a world where we are constantly chasing after what is next. Think about it. In school we can’t wait until we graduate. For sure, that’s when life really begins, right? Graduation day comes and we are stressed and overwhelmed with the pressure of what career path to embark on. Maybe it’s that we long for community, we even pray/beg God for it. A few months later, we don’t even realize we have gained the thing we wanted most because our schedules are suddenly so jam packed with get-togethers and activities and now what we want most is a little down time. We want to be married, but when that day comes, we look ahead to the next, and the next and the next. Isn’t that just like the enemy? Stealing the abundance God promises us now by distracting us with ‘the next best thing’. We don’t even enjoy the things we hoped for when they arrive because we are already looking towards what’s next. Thinking, dreaming and hoping for the future isn’t a bad thing. However, when we chose to ‘live’ in the future, we miss out on abundant living. The same can be said about living in the past.
If abundance happens in the present, that means we need find ways to be present. One thing that helps me be present-focused is gratitude. Gratitude grounds us. Being grateful to God is like putting on glasses to bring our vision back to 20-20 (see what I did there?). Our circumstances may not change overnight but our perspective can. A change in perspective can cause a change in our heart and our minds and ultimately in the way we live out the abundant life God has for us. When we give thanks, we begin to see what we do have instead of what we don’t have.
As you go about your day today, I want to challenge you to give God thanks. On your commute to work, after your meeting, for your lunch, for that deep breath of fresh west coast air, for that awesome parking spot, for technology that allows you to be connected to family across the world, for the community you’ve found in your small group…the list goes on. (For more on Gratitude, watch Pastor Andy’s message from this past weekend HERE)
You don’t have to wait until next month, next year or the next big life event to experience abundance. It’s within your reach today! Would you choose, with me, to take hold of it?