I’ve spent a lot of time lately worried about getting my needs met. You can hardly blame me. After all, my finance and I are getting married in just 27 days and we still don’t know where we’re going to live after the wedding.
Jason needs a job in Arizona. Or I need one in Colorado. Or we both need one somewhere else. We need to have salaries large enough to cover the bare bones budget we drew up.
I need to continue teaching adult education. I’m good at it and I enjoy it. It needs to be full time at a college where I can continue to receive benefits: retirement, free classes for my dependents, classes for me, and health insurance.
The kids need to continue their education. Our two oldest need to keep getting free college. The next needs an academically rich high school with a choir. The youngest needs a friendly school with a strong fine arts program.
I need a mini-van. I’ll be carting around four teen-aged girls and all their stuff and all their friends. Plus, teen-aged girls can eat. I need trunk space for all those groceries.
I need a house that’s light and bright and airy and clean. Cramped, dark, unorganized places affect my depression. Jason needs to get rid of half his crap and so do I. I cannot deal with clutter.
I need to be near to family. I am a family girl. I love my mommy. I adore my sisters. I can’t stand to be separated from them.
I need to attend a church with good doctrine, biblically sound teaching, a youth ministry, and rocking worship.
I need. I need. I need.
A friend asked me last night over coffee if I thought we’d ever see the “abundant life” this side of heaven. He’d done his research, and due to the wording of the original Greek and Aramaic, he had determined that was a promise of heaven. No abundant life now, that comes later.
“I have come that they may have life and have it to the fullest,” just kept rolling around in my head as he spoke.
Life to the fullest.
He went on to cite all the things we didn’t have in this life or just didn’t have enough of: free time, material possessions, good health, security, freedom from sorrow. The list was long. I had to admit that he was right, those are things we won’t have this side of heaven. Did the disciples get abundant life, he questioned? I mean, they were all martyred. Crucified upside down, beheaded, clubbed to death, stabbed.
But, I queried, do you have the right understanding of abundant life?
It got me thinking and, as generally happens when I start thinking, it loosened my tongue.
Circumstances aren’t the abundant life. Possessions aren’t the abundant life. Freedom from sorrow and pain isn’t the abundant life.
In fact, the best gift I have ever been given by God was something most people would call a great burden: crippling depression and anxiety. For years, I prayed to God to make me faithful, to teach me to rely on Him rather than myself, to keep me consistent in prayer and the word, to transfer all this head knowledge into heart faith. God answered with a darkness so overwhelming that I can no longer function without Him. In order to get through a day I have to pray, I have to read scripture. I no longer have the option to stumble through life following my rebellious little heart down whatever dark alleys it cares to explore.
This difficulty has been a miraculous, life changing gift. Every time I’ve pressed into the Lord, he has answered with peace. Every time I’ve begged Christ to sustain me, He has answered with strength. Every time I was not enough, God has been my all in all. Best of all, I have come to realize that I am kept this close to Jesus out of love- deep, abiding, all-encompassing love. My Daddy just can’t bear to be apart from me for long.
O, to be loved so completely despite all my failings. That is the greatest joy of all. Greater than depression. Greater than anxiety. Greater than the darkness which tries to overwhelm me.
The abundant life is the presence of Christ.
Christ is it. All you need.
All I need.