I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
- John 10:10
Abundantly in John 10:10 is from the Greek word perissos (ερισσός) which is in the sense of beyond; superabundant (in quantity) or superior (in quality); by implication excessive; exceeding abundantly above, more abundantly, advantage, exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous, vehemently.
Are your relationships, time, money and life in general operating in abundance right now? Do you have an excess? Is your life superabundant in quantity or superior in quality? Do you feel advantaged? If you can yes to all these questions then there is no need to continue reading, you have it all figured out nicely!
I, however, reached a point when I realised that my life was anything but abundant. In fact, I was quite sure the I was living in the first part of John 10:10 where it says that The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. It seemed that nothing I did was prospering and even when I did have a minor breakthrough; it was ripped right out of my hands. At church, people were being saved but then they would disappear, people would come off drugs and show remarkable progress but then slip right back. Our finances were definitely functioning in the first part of John 10:10, as soon as any money came our way it was instantly stolen! Something would crop up each and every time there seemed to be a little bit of hope of getting on top of our bills. One thing after another was either stolen, killed or destroyed in our life. Abundance did not seem too far out of our reach, it seemed very impossible.
Why does it seem that God isn’t blessing anything that I am doing with my life? I said in tears one morning as Eric and I lay in bed. Eric was ill and trying to recover from the flu that he had been suffering from all week and I was lying in bed because I had been feeling really down and depressed that same week.
It was one of those weeks!
Every Sunday morning and evening Eric and I would faithfully lead our little church. During the week, we would do our best to visit people, pray for them and care for them to the best of our ability. In addition to caring for the broken, hurting souls of Cheltenham and Gloucester, we tried our best to raise our four beautiful children and maintain a healthy marriage. On top of that, we would try to find ways to make money to pay our bills as we were not yet paid for pastoring our church. It was our dream to be paid but our church simply didn’t much money at all so to generate income Eric taught music and I did bookkeeping. Even though we knew that God had called us to build our church Eric did continue to apply for every possible job he could. His intention was not to stop building the church but in order to survive financially we felt compelled to explore all options.
Most days we were fine. We accepted the struggle as a part of pioneering a church. On the whole, we were content and managed to hold onto our home, our car and eat every day. Occasionally we event went out and had fun too. Our life seemed quite reasonable and we often encouraged each other to be grateful for the things that we did have. Sometimes though, we needed to vent! Especially me, I did not have the Pollyanna anointing that’s for sure. There were days when we just needed to let it out and be real about the stuff we tried not to talk about. This was one of those mornings and I held nothing back!
“I wonder if I even hear God’s voice!” I said with tears still streaming down my face. “For years I tried to build my business and I was convinced I heard God every step of the way but it failed. So what was that about? Did I hear God or not?”
Failing in my business left many unanswered questions in my mind. Some of them made me wonder about my relationship with God. At times, these questions crept up again and Eric and I wondered about the church we were building.
“I know how you feel darling; I feel the same way sometimes. At times, I wonder if I am doing what God has called me to do, or am I just doing what I want to do?” Eric said sympathetically as I continued with my venting.
I was on a roll now and felt no need to hold back and put on a brave front!
“I am tired of working so hard and seeing so little fruit. Why do I write all these books and see so few sold. Surely if God wanted to bless us with income, He could at least help me sell my books. I would love to hear story after story about how my books have changed lived, but I would also love to see some income from my work too – is that wrong?”
Eric continued to encourage me with the kindest words he could find. We chatted about our finances and Eric said that he was not going to do any more tithes messages until he saw the floodgates of heaven open. He said that the felt like a hypocrite telling the church one thing but living something else. The truth is that we were struggling financially and we were telling the church how to receive the blessing of God. Why? Why did we not see the things that we truly believed and preached about on Sundays?
Questions continued to pour out of mouths as we questioned why every Sunday people gave their life to Jesus at church and then almost every week we lost people that had been coming for a while. It seemed like we were permanently chasing people to keep them in our church. Surely, this is not what God intended when He said to shepherd His sheep?
Then there was the whole issue of employment. Since we had started the church, Eric had not been able to find a job. He had applied for jobs over the past three years and nothing at all came up. Why? Was this God saying that we should trust Him and focus entirely on building the church? Was God testing us? Were we doing something wrong? It didn’t make sense. Surely, if God wanted us to focus on building His Church then He would provide a reasonable amount of income for us to live on.
Even though the ‘why?’ plagued us we were both determined to keep doing what we were doing with our life unless we heard otherwise from God. As we lay pouring out our hearts to each other, we realised that we had to do something about our situation. Continuing to struggle ourselves also meant that we could not teach anyone else how to be free either. Most importantly, we would have to exclude a whole section of the Bible from our preaching because we had no testimony what-so-ever about things like faith, healing, financial provision, etc.
A church without faith, healing and financial provision was no church at all. Jesus said that He came to give us life and life abundantly! The live we were living was not even life let alone life abundantly. Our life was a life of keeping our heads above water, a live of survival and a life where abundantly life was only a distant dream, a possibility and a faint hope. We could not continue to confess all the promised of God and not live them and so we committed to a journey of exploration. Our destination would be abundant life and we would stop at nothing until our life matched up to what the Word of God said we should be living.