Bringing forth life is a long, arduous process. The months of growing and swelling, stretching and aching. The preparation, the learning, the books, the classes. All leading to that one moment in which time stands still and all the pain and planning show their purpose: life.
Perhaps you feel like that. Perhaps you are in a place where you feel you are laboring in vain, with nothing to deliver. Perhaps you feel stuck, barren, or frightened by what you have inside you.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
I first fell in love with this verse (John 10:10) when I was expecting our Firefly. Each of our children have a verse picked out based upon the meaning of their names, and this passage had captured my heart on her behalf. After all, her name means life. Over the following years, my heart has been unpacking this verse and all that it means and how it manifests in the lives of those who are in Christ.
Just a few short years before, I had been walking in the most pitiable darkness. I was angry, disillusioned, and bitter. I know now that I was in the painful part of breaking and becoming. That’s why doubt no longer worries me. Doubt shows the sign of a fight. Doubt shows that you’re engaged. The Lord will wrestle with us in our deserts and is bigger than even our biggest fears and arguments.
I’ve heard the Gospel my whole life. I’ve been steeped in Scripture and washed in the water from infancy, but the darkness of my own heart and the darkness around me had left me viewing the Bible as a standard I could never achieve, a list I could never accomplish, and a set-up for all the hypocrisy I saw around me. I vacillated between legalism, slamming those around me for their lack of adherence, or license, taking advantage of the promise of forgiveness. I knew of Grace, but had no concept of how it could truly be manifested in my own life.
In those early years of marriage and motherhood, the Lord was faithful to water the hard soil of my heart and used his people, his church, his word, and his Spirit to coax light from my darkness and breathe life into my aching bones.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I began looking at the thieves I had welcomed into my heart. The untruths I believed, the shadows I chased after, and the consumption with my own glory.
You see, I believed that God’s glory and my joy were mutually exclusive. One led to the loss of another. But no, dear ones, His heart is for you. His commandments are not burdensome and are a delight.
We have an amazing backyard. Wild violets, gracious trees, and a dry creek decorate the terrain. Songbirds and owls, fireflies, and chattering squirrels flit through the leaves. There’s a playhouse, tire swing, a picnic table, a swing set, and a large hill to zoom down on bikes. There are wildflowers to pick, muscadines, and crabapples, all within a copious acre. But the most delightful thing is the fence.
You see, beyond our yard, there’s a steep ravine that drops into a creek. There’s unkempt land full of broken glass, tossed bottles, snakes, and boards with exposed, rusty nails. There are several wild dogs that roam the neighborhood, and the ever present threat of cars wielded by the distracted and careless.
The fence is our love for our children. Much like the Father’s love for us. And we are free to dance, play, and love as much as we possibly can in that space. Within his Word is everything necessary for the Good Life, and I have known such joy by dancing in it.
It is my hope to expound here on what the dance looks like in my life. It involves making peace with who I was created to be (not who I wish I was), what I was given to steward (not what I wish I had). It means freedom from the opinions of others. It means permission to chase the passions in my own heart. It means recognizing and delighting in the good things that fill my own backyard, from the silly to the sublime. It means recognizing the thieves for what they are and turning them over to the Shepherd.
It means freedom. It means delight. It means abundance.
Care to dance with me?