An Abundant Life by Charlotte Donlon

When I became a Christian 18 years ago, one of the things I learned is that Christ came to give us an abundant life. In John 10:10 Jesus says:The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (ESV)

When I am alive to my true desires, I long for the abundant life that he promises. When I allow my true desires to fade, I ignore the promise and look to cheap substitutions. But my idols and addictions never come through for me the way I think they will. They always fall short, and my true desires resurface. Their return is as sure as the continuous cycle of the seasons. It may take a while for spring to be ablaze in all its glory, but we know it’s coming. It never fails to arrive.

Not long ago, I was struck with the reality that I already have what I so desperately want. The abundant life isn’t a life of constant happiness free from pain and discomfort. If that’s what Jesus was claiming to give us, he would have said that. The abundant life is a life full of life–with ups and downs, rest and struggle, sorrow and joy.

It ‘s having a thriving marriage, a wonderful family and dear friends. And knowing the heartache of broken relationships.

It’s being content as a wife, mother and neighbor. And having days, weeks, and months of feeling like I offer no valuable contribution to society.

It’s caring for others. And being depleted with no more time or energy to give.

It’s tasting and enjoying God’s presence and goodness. And experiencing periods of spiritual disconnection.

It’s being hopeful about the future. And wondering if this is as good as it gets.

It’s having a sane mind. And journeying through several seasons of depression, two episodes of hypermania and one week-long stay in a psychiatric ward.

It’s having a healthy body. And undergoing an emergency hysterectomy.

It’s feeling beautiful and confident. And knowing that I may never truly love what I see in the mirror.

I’m not the first woman who’s been tempted to think that God is holding out on her. When I’m back in the garden, questioning God’s goodness and battling with the thief whose job is to steal, kill and destroy, I can choose to believe that I already possess what my savior came to give me. This messy, mixed-up, fantastic, ordinary, extraordinary life is mine for the taking. Knowing that the triune God is always with me and that my ultimate hope is in the eternal life Jesus obtained for me gives me the freedom to take hold of all that comes my way this side of heaven. And I pray for the grace and the faith to do so.


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