To live is Christ (Phil 1:21)
Last night I was driving the 50 minute commute home from our Bible talk in Columbus. The road was dark, and a constant cold spray of rain fell on my car. It was one of those times when I just wanted to get home. I didn’t want to do anything that would involve me expending energy, and that included calling someone, or even praying. I put on the news and zoned out.
But as I drove and listened to the day’s top stories, I started to talk to God anyway. I said to myself, “There must be a way to pray at the end of the day so it doesn’t feel like another thing I am supposed to do.” And I was real with God about how I was feeling. I thought about what we have been discussing in church: how would we fill in the blank, “To live is _____.” I thought about the insights I was having on this — that the real question was, “What would make me happy?” The answer should be Christ, but was it really for me?
And then this thought struck me: If to live is Christ, then to have the abundant life is to have more of Christ.
That was a challenging idea. I had been thinking that the abundant life means we enjoy the things we have more. This new idea was along the same lines as what Jake preached about the verse, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” He said that if you delight yourself in the Lord, the desires of your heart will be to have more of the Lord.
At this point, what should happen, but I saw blue and red lights ahead of me. There was a wreck. Traffic came to a complete standstill.
All of a sudden, I had a lot of time to fill. I could listen to the news some more. Or I could practice finding the abundant life in Christ. I began to brainstorm positive things about God/Christ:
- He is completely good. He is holy. There is nothing bad in him.
- He is light, in him there is no darkness at all.
- He is love. There is no malice in him.
- He is stronger than evil.
- He leads us in triumphant procession
- His mercy is so great
And I found this was a powerful meditation. My tired resistant soul found peace and inspiration. Enduring the stretch of time before me were no longer a chore.
To live is ______. What will really make me happy? If I am honest with myself, what I feel in my heart is, “I will be happy when I can perform perfectly.” But over time God is showing me more and more riches of what true happiness is, what it means to really have the abundant life —
More of Christ.
More of a realization of who God is. More of a consciousness that Christ is holding my hands, looking in my eyes and saying, “I chose you. I died for you. You can do this.” More thankfulness for the treasures he drops along my way every day.
More praise. I read in my quiet time this morning, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Ps 84:2
As I dissected the verse, I learned that “cry out” actually means “joyful singing.” It is the same word used in II Chronicles 16 as David and the people celebrated bringing the ark into Jerusalem, “Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the LORD.” It is the same word that God used when he described how the angels reacted to the creation of the earth, “. . . when I laid the earth’s foundation . . . and all the angels shouted for joy” Job 38:4-7
If I thirst for what is real and meaningful, what will fill my soul but praise? Let me shout and sing like the angels. Let me embrace life. Forgive me, Lord, for my frustrations and complaining. Let all that is in me magnify who God is. As I sang yesterday morning, we are living in an OCEAN of love, peace, goodness; we are sustained by grace. Let us, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” (Ps 100:4)