Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Life to the Full

John 10:10 (New International Version)
10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Life "to the full." There are different thoughts on what that means. There is a tension, always, in scripture, that keeps things in balance, like the guy ropes that secure a tent to the ground.

I was talking to a young friend recently and he said to me, "I believe God wants to heal all sickness and that we are all to live an abundant life." I hesitated to reply, but he had the look of blind faith of a scary sort and I just had to say something or by my silence assent to what he said.

So I gently plunged in with another perspective, not meaning to discourage, but to broaden his thoughts.

"If that is true," I asked, "How do you explain the suffering of people such as the apostle Paul? Or my father in law, who died of cancer at the age of 62, having faithfully ministered the Word of God all of his adult life?"

"And," I went on, "Why do we think of death as such a bad thing? Surely to be with the Lord is a wonderful thing?"

I believe with all my heart that God wants us to live a life that is "to the full," but I would rather leave the definition of that to him. I believe that the thing that "the thief" comes to steal and destroy is relationship--intimacy--with God and with each other. Perhaps that is why there is a clear message throughout scripture that God hates those who sow discord among brothers.

In suffering we may discover an intimacy with God that we would never know on the sunny mountaintop. If we always run from pain we may miss the growth that results from having to flex our spiritual muscles.

"Life to the full" makes me think of strength; maturity; depth of wisdom and a seasoning that comes from being tried and found true.

His eyes clouded momentarily as I spoke. It was not the response he had expected, but he considered my words and nodded. I pray that he goes deeper. We serve and follow One familiar with suffering.

Acts 14:21-22 (New International Version)
21They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said.

Romans 5:3-5 (New International Version)
3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.



4 comments:

Julie said...

Praise the Lord for an answer to prayer Belinda. This topic has been my prayer since my dads passing. I was told when my dad was diagnoised with cancer that the Lord wanted to heal him from the cancer and I needed to believe this, no ifs ands or buts. I choose to accept the Lords will for my dad, which was to give us a year longer. A year I would not have traded in, the Lord did do a healing a great and wonderful healing in my dads life and mine during this year. A healing that might not have taken place had he not had the cancer and then been taken home to the Lord. As my dad came to the Lord just before he was diagnoised another great healing (salvation) in my dads life. Sorry for the long reply but my heart is leaping for joy as I have been questioning that maybe I should have believed like I had been told for his healing of the cancer.

Belinda said...

Dear Julie,
A big hug, and a praise to God for his leading last night as I wrote. I kept trying to write a completely different post, but twice it disappeared from my blog. I finally gave up and listened for God's leading and this is what came for today.

Brenda said...

I desperately needed these words today, too, Belinda. So you have been right on for at least two people in cyberspace. Your words give me courage to press on, to endure, to remain true.

Belinda said...

Brenda, you are so in my thoughts at the moment. I read Susan's comment on your blog last night and she said everything so beautifully that I couldn't add a single word. But I was saying "Amen."

My favourite psalm is 84, where it says, in verse 6 & 7, "Who passing through the valley of Baca, make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God."
Hugs and love,