I believe that when most of us hear that super-verse in John 10—you know, the one about us having life more “abundantly”—we unconsciously translate that as “the good life.” And by that we mean a life where “the future’s so bright I’ve got to wear shades.” Or if not quite that brilliant, at least a life where everybody’s in good health, all of the bills are paid, the kids are doing great in school, and there’s enough money in the bank for that little getaway to Tuscany we’ve been dreaming of. Again, I believe this is largely unconscious. Sure, we may bristle at the prosperity gospel, but do you know anybody who’d refuse a little more prosperity in life? Me neither.
But as with most of what Jesus said, we must have ears that not only hear, but also listen. Did Jesus mean the future’s-so-bright life? Or does the full life look different? Could it be one filled with every experience on the spectrum of being human?
I believe that Jesus came so you and I could cry tears of joy when families are reunited with their soldiers who’ve been in harm’s way. So we could flounder around awhile after we graduate from college because we’re stoked about the future but also scared to death. So we can be giddily beside ourselves that Michael Phelps grew up and won all that gold. So we can be enraged when our daughters are measured by nothing more than their measurements. So we can be truly doubtful of lasting change in Washington. So we can weep when we gather at the grave of the childhood friend stolen from us by cancer. So we can stand speechless before autumn’s falling colors. That, I believe, is the full life.
“Here is the world,” Frederick Buechner wrote. “Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” The abundant life equals the beautiful and the terrible and everything in between. That’s why Jesus came. But here’s the caveat, sisters and brothers. Should you accept the mission of full living, you must hold on tight to Jesus with all you’ve got and then some. The real and eternal and more and better existence Jesus promised is not an easy road. There are crosses. But there are also Easter Sunday mornings.
Don’t be afraid.