The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”John 10:10
If you have ever wondered what Jesus’ motives were, what the whole point of his coming was, he lays it all out in this verse. He comes to give us life; abundant, full life. It’s for you, me and anyone else who’d like it.
I know, medically speaking, we’re either alive or dead, but in day to day life, it feels like there’s a sliding scale of aliveness. We often refer to it as our sense of well-being or our level of happiness. I often think of it in terms of how full of life I feel. Let’s say this scale goes from 0-10.
So maybe a ‘1’ is when we’re lying in bed with flu, weighing up whether we really need that sip of water because it’s just too much effort to move. We might say we feel like death warmed up, not very alive at all. Then we’ve got our ‘4’s and ‘5’s on the scale – life’s not awful but not great. I’m usually there by February. I’ve had enough of winter, I’m tired, and life just feels a bit busy and hard. It can feel like we’re just existing, getting through each day, waiting for spring.
Move up the scale a bit, and we’re getting to the good stuff. The happy days of ‘7’s and ‘8’s. Happy trips to the beach, satisfying afternoons gardening, dinner with friends. And then there’s the glorious (but sometimes elusive) ’10’ – those moments of bliss where it feels like everything’s right with the world, and we feel fully alive in every sense. Joy, contentment, peace, hope all wrapped up together. Hmmm, I love those moments. I’d happily live closer to the ’10’ end of the scale more of the time. I guess you would too.
The reality is that our gauge of aliveness, our happiness, our sense of how full of life we feel, can swing precariously back and forth, depending on what life is currently throwing at us. Sometimes it moves in seasons, but I can easily swing from a ‘9’ to a ‘2’ and back up to a ‘7’ in one day, or, let’s be real, even in an hour.
Thankfully, the fullness of life that Jesus speaks of isn’t found in our ever-changing circumstances. It doesn’t pivot on the smallest of shifts and turns. We don’t need to wait for that first warm spring day when the grass has been cut, and the sky is blue, and we all put on our shorts and head out for a picnic to bask in the sunshine. Or for that first night of a holiday when we sit outdoors in the warm evening sun, or even for the glass of wine awaiting us once the kids are in bed. I know I can feel joy in all these situations, but if my happiness is rooted in them, it’s just doesn’t hold, because they’re all too flimsy. The clouds gather, and the rain comes. The kids fight, and we wonder why we spent all this money on a family holiday if this is what it will be like. The wine glass empties, and it’s time for bed before a new day dawns with all its pressures and challenges and potential to rob us of joy.
So, where do we find this fullness of life if it doesn’t come from the outside in? Well, it comes from Jesus who lives within us. He’s the one who gives us life, and he gives it abundantly. He says
If anyone thirsts, let him come to me a drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”John 7:37
Without Jesus, when we get thirsty, we look to life to satisfy our thirst. And when the well of life dries up a bit, we’re stuffed. So we go looking for something, anything to soothe our parched throats. It’s like we’re stood in the rain with our tongues out because we’ve got no container to collect water in. We take in life a drop at a time, and it’s never enough to satisfy.
What Jesus offers us is a well that never runs dry. In him, life (water) keeps flowing. There’s a stream that we are invited to drink from. His river is continually flowing with life-giving goodness. When there’s a drought externally, his river is where we’ll find joy instead of despair, clarity in the fog, comfort in our tears, hope when all looks hopeless and peace in the storm. And when life is rich with summer rain, we get to enjoy it with him. Honestly, the closer I walk with Jesus, and the more I drink from his river of life, the fuller of life I feel. The ‘1’s and ‘2’s don’t feel so bad, and the ‘6’s and ‘7’s can feel like ’10’s. I can find a ’10’ in the simplest of things. The first red tomato on the vine, the birds singing in the morning, a hug from kid 3, taking sourdough out of the oven for Saturday lunch, watching pizzas golden in our pizza oven, the first glimpse of the sea…
I could go on, but here’s my ‘take-away’ for you; don’t look to your external life to make you happy. It just can’t do that. Instead, walk closely with Jesus. Let him satisfy you from his river of life. That’s where you’ll experience and enjoy the abundant life that he died for you to have.