Saturday, June 03, 2006

An Abundant Life

"Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people---free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out for us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone."
Ephesians 1:7-12 The Message

A couple of days ago this passage really struck me. Sometimes when I am reading the epistles and I know what the next line will be, it doesn't really sink in. But this year I've been reading familiar passages in the Message and it often strikes me in a new way. I don't think it is just that I am hearing new words in an unfamiliar paraphrase ofcourse. No matter what translation you are reading, God can speak to you in a new way even if you have heard the passage many times before. I guess that is the richness of God's Word and the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. I've been thinking about my life alot lately, and I wonder if it is passing me by while I follow a dull routine and go through the motions of living. I fritter away time, and somehow I don't make time for what's really important. My job, which really is a rich field for blogging material that I can't exploit for rather obvious reasons, is far from fulfilling. We'll leave it at that. I live at home, but I know I should be moving out soon and spreading my wings. Yet I fear doing so. I don't have a plan about what I should do with my life. I am trying to form one but it is still in the gestation stage and may miscarry.
For a long time I didn't dream, I didn't allow myself to think beyond graduating from university. I hoped I would meet some-one, imagining that then my life would come together. I wanted marriage and a family. A career would be nice too, but I didn't allow myself to imagine what it would be. Looking back, I don't think at twenty-one or even at twenty-three, the ages that my two married siblings were married, I was ready for a serious relationship leading to matrimony. I had enough things to work through. Another thing that I did think about and dream about was getting off my medication that I've been on since I was seventeen and going through a severe depression and lengthy hospitalization. I am always ready to listen to any one who has anti-medication arguments, because, even though it helped me come out from a catatonic state, I hate taking it and always have. I had the idea that my life medication free, like my life with a boyfriend or husband, or my life with me twenty to thirty pounds lighter, would be so much improved somehow.
It's only been in the last year or so that I've been starting to believe in God's purposes for my life, that it will be worth-while and meaningful. Of course I still have the tendency to throw pity-parties, at least on a monthly basis if not more often. And there is a big gap between what I know and what I actually do in my life. I am quick to understand the theories and concepts but slow to put them into practice. Sometimes I would rather not live and try and face the future. Instead of enjoying the little things and living in the present and thanking God for the blessings, or even, as my Mom suggested today, thanking God for the messes and problems, I focus on complaining about what I don't have and stewing about the negatives which you never have to look very far to find. Instead of focusing on being happy for friends and relatives who have joys and successes, I feel a sense of envy. "Why can't I be getting married by now?" or "why can't I find a fulfilling job and career?" My focus is too often on what I think God should do for me and not on how I should serve and love. Many people have to go through hard times and hard things---I mean the examples are every-where in the Scriptures and in life, but it is how you respond and how you trust God and how you rejoice and are thankful even in difficulty that matters. God doesn't promise a difficulty-free life, but he does promise a rich and glorious life, an abundant life. That's what this passage says to me. That God has given me every-thing I need for a life well lived. That in Christ I am set free from worries and fears and sins, that I don't have to live in them, and though I will have problems and difficulties and struggles, I don't have to despair or give up and I can be victorious in them and joyful in the midst of them. That long before I was born, God planned for me a glorious life. When I think of what Christ went through to free and deliver me, to redeem me--how can I live in a self-imposed gloomy dungeon imagining I am a prisoner? This passage says I have everything I need. Can I tell God that it is not enough? That somehow it doesn't work for me because I am a special problem that Christ's blood just can't quite cover? Of course not! And I can be a part of something big that God is working in the world, his purposes and his redemption of his good creation. I especially love how the Message puts it that in Christ God set before us "a long range plan in which everything would be brought together and and summed up in him (Christ), everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth." I know I don't understand the full significance, but it is so much bigger than me and my petty concerns and preoccupations.


June-Star said...

Suzanne, you are such a beautiful and special person! I know God is leading you on a life journey that is rich and full. Thank you for reminding me again to enjoy the little things in life and that every momment is a time to show His glory. I too get stuck on "what if" and "if only". Learning to embrace what is now is quite the challenge. I'm really glad to see you confronting it. Enjoy the day.

Suzanne den Boer said...

Thanks Jen! And you're welcome. Wouldn't it be great if we always remembered in our worst moments what we understood and resolved upon in our best? Writing it is always so much easier than living it.

John den Boer said...

"Writing it is always so much easier than living it."

Yeah, that's true.

Rod and Bec said...

Suzanne, yet again you really spoke to me! Thank you for your honesty and your encouragement!

Suzanne den Boer said...

Yeah, John, sometimes I think the writing me and the speaking and living me are two totally different people. Although most of the time when I write, and all of the time when I blog, I do feel I am being sincere. I'll have to analyze that.

You're welcome Becky. I am glad that you were encouraged. Thanks for your comment. It means a lot.