“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
This verse has been a constant theme over the past couple of weeks. It has shown up in a book that I have been working through. I have heard numerous speakers refer to it. One of my campers brought it up in our group discussion around the campfire. I can’t seem to get away from this idea of not just life, but life abundantly. What does that mean to have life abundantly, and why don’t we experience it more often?
There have been a handful of moments over the past month that have given me a taste of what I think Jesus means when he talks about life and life abundantly.
1) Experiencing meaningful, heartfelt worship in an intimate setting with an incredible group of people.
2) Taking the time to walk by yourself on a trail, hauling a heavy backpack, and thinking of nothing but God’s goodness.
3) Spending my 20th birthday on a backpacking trip with 7 solid, Godly guys who love and care about me.
4) Seeing the joy on an unathletic teenagers face when he accomplishes something he never thought he could.
5) Spending extended periods of time solitude in nature, just listening for the voice of God.
6) Laughing and screaming as we tumble through a rapid, and the breathtaking moment when the shock of the cold water hits your system.
7) Waking up to the cool mountain air and sipping a hot cup of coffee on the back porch of our cabin.
8) Joining my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in heartfelt prayer for immediate needs and things far off in the distance.
9) Spending 6 days in the backcountry with a fellow Sherpa and 4 high school aged guys, knowing that we are responsible for their well being.
10) Telling a kid that I wasn’t going to let him come down from the rock because I knew him could make it to the top, and hearing the excitement in his voice as he told others about what he had done.
11) Having natural, casual conversations with fellow Sherpas about what God has been showing them over the past month.
12) Sitting around a campfire with my campers while they made remarkably deep parallels about their experiences in nature and what that has shown them about God.
13) Sleeping in a real bed after 11 days of camping.
14) Reading my Bible outside. Seriously, you have to try it.
15) Spending much needed time with my family and wonderful girlfriend after two weeks with campers.
16) Hearing God’s voice in the stillness of the woods.
This isn’t to say that there haven’t been challenges and roadblocks along the way. After all, as Christians we have to recognize that the thief is real and he indeed comes to steal and kill and destroy. He can be divisive among believers. He can cause people to doubt themselves or find the worst in every situation. He tries to crush every hint of joy inside of us and is threatened when we encroach on having abundant life. Thankfully, we also know that the thief was and is not victorious. I have come to understand that Jesus’ offer to have abundant life is always there, and those moments happen all around us. The problem is that all too often we let the thief have way too much leeway. We get discouraged when the rain comes instead of embracing its beauty. We are annoyed by silence and fill it with noise instead of listening for the voice of God. We get frustrated by people and choose bitterness instead of Grace. In just about every situation, there is an opportunity to have life, and have it abundantly, and there is an opportunity to allow the thief to steal, kill, and destroy. If I have learned anything this summer, its to choose life.