I drew the term “life to the full” from John 10: 10, the New International Version of the Bible (NIV): “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
As a regular Bible reader, this is a familiar passage to me. However, it’s also a verse that our pastor, Doug Walker often teaches on. On the surface, “life to the full” hints of “the good life” or the attainment of “health, wealth and prosperity” or even that “good things comes to those who wait.” But it is so much more than just that, says Doug.
Dictionary.com defines full as “completely filled; containing all that can be held; filled to utmost capacity; complete.” Along that line, says Doug, “life to the full” not only encompasses all that life brings (and throws) but Jesus-followers have something extra – a sort of real-time radar that God parses out to His followers to guide and empower their steps along the way. To the extent that we live in that perspective, we not only have an assurance about outcome but we have an opportunity to partner with God in a “divine conspiracy” to reclaim the universe from the “bad” influences now seeming to run the show and restore the rule and order and goodness of God’s original creation.
Doug’s “life to the full” idea runs all throughout the Bible. It is part of what Doug calls Jesus’ “upside down” gospel that holds that life is not what it seems. What’s really going on is a whole other story orchestrated by God that is unfolding behind the scenes.
The pages of the Bible offer many examples of this conspiracy. Check out the stories of Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Esther, Job, Joseph, David, Jesus, and Paul to name just a few.
The Christmas story is another perfect illustration of this divine conspiracy. Despite that the very time, place and manner of Jesus’ birth fulfilled multiple prophecies made hundreds of years earlier, all of those anxiously awaiting his arrival expected a different kind of savior and not only failed to recognize Him, they ultimately executed Him!
As I considered a 2009 ornament that would reflect what God was doing in my life this year and how I could make a Christmas connection, Doug’s “life to the full” teaching resonated for me. I’ve been faced with finding a new way to earn a living. At times, my efforts seemed extraordinarily hard and even now I have no sense of when I will emerge to a renewed sense of competence and stability. But, thankfully, this period of life has allowed me to grasp what Doug has been trying to help me to see – that roads marked with more questions than answers are exactly the kinds of roads Jesus invites his followers to venture onto – roads where fullness is found at every turn.
Says Linda Dillow in her book, Calm My Anxious Heart, “If we fix our focus on our faithful Weaver, we will someday know that the most exquisite work of all our lives was done in those days of darkness. Faith is walking in the dark with God, holding His hand. “
So I wish you “life to the full” this Christmas. If your life lacks the fullness that is only possible in Christ, I do not hesitate to desire for you anything that God may allow in order for you to know Him fully – even if a few “days of darkness” are involved. To know Him is not only worth any price that can be paid, it helps you avoid making the really fatal error of executing your savior! (gt – 12/9/09)