In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “I came to give life with joy and abundance.” We often quote that as Christians, but what does it really mean? A life with joy AND abundance. It sounds wonderful doesn’t it? The sad reality is that I know few people who really live that way. Some come to mind. They always make an impression on me. I’m sure you know a small handful and their lives inspire us. The thing is, Jesus says it’s the life He came to give and it’s meant for anyone who follows Him. It’s the life I want. The one I crave.
Yesterday I had an experience that was powerful. In that moment I knew exactly what the abundant life felt like. Unfortunately we often think of the abundant life as having more. Not having to worry about any financial need. Plenty of food in the pantry and money in the bank. We have applied the worlds definition to something that is of God. And that always messes things up. There’s nothing wrong with food in the pantry or money in the bank but the abundant life is not those things. The poorest of the poor can live with joy and abundance and the riches of the rich can live joyless with an empty heart and spirit.
Back to yesterday. Y’all know I have a passel of kids. They eat like locusts, devouring everything in sight. My husband is the pastor of a wonderfully, generous congregation who believe in taking good care of the preacher. We have been so blessed. We live in a beautiful home and have all that we need. Usually. You know how life goes. There’s the budget and all the usual things. Groceries, gas, utilities, etc. But then things come along that are unexpected. One of the kids blows their tennis shoes out. There’s a field trip that you didn’t plan on. You have to make an extra trip out-of-town using lots of gas. The tires need to be replaced. Someone gets sick and you need to get some prescriptions filled.
I pay the bills at our house and God and I have a system. All the usual things go into the budget. All the extra things go onto a list. A prayer list. And as they come up I ask for His wisdom to be a good steward of the resources He’s entrusted us with, and I ask for provision if we are coming up short. God and I have had this system for a long, long time. And it works. Last week I had an unexpected thing come up and I had the money at the time to deal with it. I also knew that if I spent that money it would put me in a tough place this week when I planned on using that money. I needed that money today, Tuesday, November 19th. And now it was gone. So I put it on my list and began to pray. Yesterday afternoon I was thinking of it again and was impressed to pray and so I began to pray for God to meet the need I had today. I realized I hadn’t been to the mailbox so I prayed as I walked to the mailbox.
Do you know what I found when I got to the mailbox…………as I was praying? Of course you do!! I saw a card with an address from several states away. It was from someone we rarely see. I thought, goodness, a Christmas card already?! And I laughed that our first Christmas card came before Thanksgiving because there was no OTHER reason that this person would be sending us a card. Right? Wrong. 🙂
I opened the card yesterday to find a check. And of course, it was for the amount I needed today. And the card read, “God has laid on my heart to give you this gift to use as you see fit.” This type of thing has happened to me more times than I can count in my adult life. I could fill pages and pages. I went to college broke and graduated not owing any money. That was God. I have literally dropped my kids off at school and knew I didn’t have enough gas to go back and get them and God would provide before school was out. I have opened the cabinets and pulled out all the food for the last meal and God would show up before the next meal. (I take to heart the Lord’s prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” He always has. Always). People have sent me cards. Dropped money in my mailbox. My husband was out walking once and stepped on two $100 bills. Guess who had been praying for $200? It was on the list. It is truly amazing. It appears so random, but it never is. It is very, very specific. In fact, I rarely tell anyone what I’m praying for. Sometimes I don’t even tell Hubby. And then something will happen and something will come across his path and he will ask, have you been praying for something? Yes I have and without fail the answer is as specific as the prayer and I know exactly what it is for. Even my children are learning this concept and I have seen them pray for something specific and God will answer it just as specifically and without a doubt we know what it is for. And it always has the same impact on me. I’m reduced to tears. My hands are shaking now as I type this because I am so humbled that God cares. The details matter to Him.
And here’s the conclusion I’ve come to. I have lived with plenty and I have lived with little. And sometimes that varies from week to week! I have been given so much and by the worlds standards we are rich. By anyone’s standards we are incredibly blessed. I’m grateful for the food we have, the trips we can take, for the nice vehicle we have and all the neat things my kids have been able to do. But in that moment when I knew I couldn’t help myself and God answered my prayer…..I wouldn’t trade that for any material possession in the whole world. That is the fulfillment of joy and abundance. I cried and cried. Not just because the need was met, but because God heard little, insignificant me. He heard me. And He answered me specifically. It is the sweetest thing I have known in all my life. That God is concerned about the details of my life and sent me a love note by way of another person. That is the abundant life. Believing God to always take care of you. Believing God is able. Believing and then seeing. A friend of mine said, “You can’t see it to believe it. You have to believe it to see it.”
I would rather have a prayer list that shows me God at work than to have a budget that always works. I have all I need and if I don’t have it then I must not need it, because God never fails. We worry about Him failing us. But He won’t! We fail HIM when we fail to believe. When I walk in that truth I live in joy and abundance, no matter what the checkbook says. Friends, hear this now. The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:
24 No one can serve two masters. If you try, you will wind up loving the first master and hating the second, or vice versa. People try to serve both God and money—but you can’t. You must choose one or the other.
25 Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink. Don’t worry about how you clothe your body. Living is about more than merely eating, and the body is about more than dressing up. 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens. They do not sow or reap—and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you.
BELIEVE IT! The abundant life isn’t having a bunch of everything. It’s believing an amazing God and watching HIM do amazing things. It’s not about what you have materially. It’s about the peace in your heart. It’s about faith and lack of worry. It’s about victory in knowing that God has it all under control. And we can’t fret our way to victory friends. Worry and fretting cannot walk hand in hand with the abundant life.
As I understand the scripture, the abundant life is for all God’s children. It can be yours. It can be. Trust Him with your money, or your need for money. Trust Him with your kids. Trust Him with that broken relationship. Trust Him with your hurt. Trust Him with your health. Trust Him with your marriage. Trust Him with your job. Trust Him with the crisis in your life. Trust Him with your future. Trust Him with your loneliness. Trust Him to give you the abundant life (more than you need) in each of these things. Trust Him friends, and walk in joy and abundance in your soul, no matter your circumstances. You will never settle for anything less again.
Walk in joy and abundance today!