How would you describe your life? Busy? Successful? Boring? (Hopefully not.) Stressful? (Probably a little.) Or full?
When I was expecting my first child, a wise co-worker gave me the best description of what being a parent would mean for my life. He said, “It’s just fuller in every way.” (That doesn’t sound like correct grammar, but that’s essentially what he said.)
My life as a mother has been exactly as he predicted. From full diapers to harried nights of homework to jam-packed schedules to crowded car-pools to deposits into college dorm rooms, my children have joyfully (mostly) enlarged my life. My heart has expanded in every direction, stretching to accommodate profound love and making room for the inevitable heartache of hurting with and for my children.
Of course, children aren’t the only life enhancers. Spouses, friends, co-workers, extended family and countless opportunities to interact with people of all sorts add richness to life. Add to relationships work, goals, personal accomplishments, and enjoyment of the magnificent world in which we live, and life is simply bursting. With all of these good things come the possibility of associated hurt, loss, disappointment, and failure. More fullness.
Even if your life is full of all the relationships, riches and beauty this world has to offer, it is still limited to this world, unless you know the One who offer fullness for all eternity.
The book of Acts tells of an incident, in the very early days of the new Christian church, in which the apostles had been imprisoned and were miraculously released by an angel. The angel opened the doors of the prison and instructed the liberated apostles to “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20).
One morning that phrase jumped off the pages of Acts, and I wrote the following stream-of-consciousness description of my understanding of “the full message of this new life” in my journal.
It is the truth of the identity and saving work of Jesus Christ. It is freedom from the power of sin, living faith in the power of God, the guiding, convicting, instructing presence of the Holy Spirit, the humbling awareness of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and love, limitless growth, Kingdom work, irrational joy, and eternal hope.
It is also the challenge of staying pure hearted and humbly dependent on Christ, frustrating in a world full of opposition to Christ, demanding faith in a world that runs on sight, requiring perseverance, prayer, grace and sacrifice It means suffering and trouble.
But it is a full life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My goal for a full life is to love all the people God has graciously put into my life, to enjoy his creation, to live with a sense of adventure in full appreciation of all the opportunities and gifts he has given me, and to do all of this in the power of and to the glory of his Son, Jesus Christ. I don’t always live like that, but I want to. Slowly, I get closer to that goal.
What is your idea of a full life?
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b