Someone recently asked me, “What does God want for you?” Having gone to church my whole life and having had a personal relationship with Christ for over 30 years, I was embarrassed to realize I didn’t have an answer. I sat there like a deer in the headlights. I was wracking my brain trying to come up with an answer, but I was drawing blanks. Ask me what God wants from me and I’ve got that covered. He wants my trust, my love, my life, my obedience…but for me? After a long awkward pause, I think she realized I wasn’t going to come up with anything. She then quietly said these three words, “life more abundantly.”
The words hung in the air, offering hope, yet was she right? Wasn’t the verse referring to everlasting life, not so much the here and now? It sounded too much like the “name it and claim it” crowd. Or the, “God has promised you a life of health, wealth, and prosperity!” lie that’s been going around forever. But in every good lie there’s a thread of truth, that’s what makes it believable. Satan loves to twist God’s words just enough to get us off course. He’s been doing it since the beginning of time, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” It worked then and is still working now so why change? There are so many verses regarding trials, tribulations, the world hating us, taking up our crosses; so abundant life now seems contradictory.
Living with daily pain and all the different hardships I’ve faced in my life had made me see this life as a training ground. Preparation for eternity. Any enjoyment was just a momentary break from training. Needless to say, I realized my view of this life had become extremely one sided. I had forgotten what else Christ had said. I started looking closer at scripture and especially at some of the verses regarding hardships. James chapter 1 speaks of trials a lot, that’s what I’ve focused on. But he talks about the other side of the coin too.
“That you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approve, he will receive the crown of life,”
“Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights,”
Lacking nothing, eternal life, every good gift…the here and now and eternity. Somehow, I’d lost track of the fact that God wants to bless me now. That sounds so selfish, but scripture backs it up. I’m not talking the “name it and claim it” crowd. Blessings, I believe come in two forms. There are the eternal ones of peace, love, redemption, forgiveness…these ones I think are a lot easier for us to accept because they are the same to everyone. Then there’s the temporary ones, money, health, success…these vary from person to person and can seem unfair at times. All through scripture there are examples of God blessing people in temporary ways. Job was extremely wealthy, had great health and a whole parcel of kids. David built himself a palace. Solomone was the wealthiest and wisest man who ever lived. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all had such great wealth that the neighboring countries considered them a threat. If you also look at their lives, they were also riddled with trials and hardships. Both can be true. I think the trick is learning how to hold the eternal ones with a closed fist, and the temporary ones open handed but still enjoy and appreciate them while we have them. The “name it and claim it” crowd would have you believe that God has promised us health, wealth and success. He’s promised us He’ll provide what we need. He had ravens deliver food to Elijah. He probably wanted a gourmet dinner, but he needed food. David when he was on the run needed a place to stay so He provided a cave, not a palace. He promises to take care of us and be there for us. But just like I enjoy blessing my kids with temporary items, so does He. Just look at creation. The beauty of the sunsetting over the water, the sound of the birds singing, the smell of the flowers, the taste of a ripe berry, the softness of a kitten, all scream of His desire for us to enjoy this life. Instead of comparing ourselves to the Jones’s and getting bitter about what we don’t have, or feeling guilty about what we do have compared to what’s happening Ukraine, let’s be grateful for what He’s given us. Let’s look for His blessings in our lives. Let’s remember to hold the temporary ones with an open hand and still enjoy them. And cling to the eternal blessings with all our might.