Saturday, March 4, 2017

Life Abundant

Whatever you do, put life in it. Choose to live everyday.
Warm heat radiated through my jacket as I shielded my eyes from the bright rays overhead; after a long and lonely separation, the sun was reintroducing itself and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Basking in the sun is a complete joy I take for granted, especially around mid-July each year, that is, until January rolls around and its presence is next to none. There is something about the inspiring glow of sunlight that pulls creation closer to its Creator. It’s like a sign—big and bold and round—that everything will be okay. The sun will rise again and so will we.
​I decided to take full advantage of this sunshine filled afternoon and went to the park. I go often when the weather is nice, but this time it felt more meaningful. Maybe it’s because it had been awhile. Maybe it was because I was tired of being cooped up indoors under a blanket or at work during never ending rainstorms. Maybe it was because I was walking on Holy Ground.
​In my life, God shows up in unusual places. If you’ve read my writing long enough, you’ve noticed this pattern. But the one place He almost always shows up is in nature. I love to be able to roam the great outdoors and hear His still small voice. There is nothing like walking the path less traveled physically and spiritually and seeing evidence of your Savior. His fingerprints are all over the place and that afternoon at the park was no different.
​I had my headphones on, but I didn’t really need them. The noises around me made up a soundtrack of their own. Whenever I got close to other people, I turned the music down. I’m not really sure why, but I wanted to hear what was going on around me without being detected. I’m a natural observer of people and I was struck by what I saw as I lapped the pond and listened to tiny fragments of people’s lives, but I wasn’t sure what it all meant. I could feel that familiar tug in my heart-pay attention Daughter, look beyond yourself, open your ears to My voice-but it wasn’t clear exactly what God was revealing. I thought about all I had encountered.
Two old friends, wise in years, catch up as they feed breadcrumbs to the flock of normally annoying geese. Today the geese seem tolerable and even somewhat approachable. A man kneels in the grass to capture just the right shot with his camera. The patter of feet hit the pavement in a steady rhythm as the runners push themselves to go a little further. A baby duck explores its surroundings cautiously along the bank. A young dad and his toddler gaze out over the bridge hoping to see ducks and turtles emerge before them. They give up knowing the old ladies have attracted all the creatures alike with their offerings of bread and venture to join them on that side of the pond. The little girl toddles alongside her dad doing her best to keep up with him despite her tiny stride. The tap of a hammer is heard in the distance; someone is building onto their life. An infant climbs the steps of the playground taking new leaps and bounds. A brother and sister take turns swinging off the jungle gym and laughing about their day unbothered by what the future holds. Two sit on a bench in conversation as life teems all around them.
​The Holy Spirit urges me gently, waiting for my aha moment, but I’m slow with this one. I can’t connect the dots. It’s just a bunch of people living their life. I gaze across the park again in a last ditch effort and this time my eyes settle on something I had ignored earlier—the cemetery. Casually lined up against the walking trial, a small cemetery sits looking down the hill. It hits me—we have to choose life every day. Death is certain to come in its own time, but sometimes we live like we are already there.
​I’m reminded of an enlightened George Bailey crying out over a bridge in desperation after a chance at seeing the world without him in it. He cries, “I want to live again. Lord, I want to live again.”
​Some of us are on that same bridge of desperation and heartbreak. We’ve been hanging out in the graveyard when there is life abundant just down the hill. We haven’t truly been living, not the way God intended at least. I encourage you as God did me: note the contrast of life and death and choose life. Live open hearted and hand in hand with an active and alive Savior. Take the world and all its adventures like never before. Choose to see opportunity rather than loss. Feed the geese. Run the track. Take the photo. Have the conversation. Build something. But whatever you do—put life back in it!
Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishesJames 4:14
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

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