Life is a hard thing to navigate, isn’t it?
At all times there are a dozen things to be done, a hundred options to take, a million things floating through our head. How do we live well and how can we know we’re following God’s plan for us? I quickly become overwhelmed it all.
The easiest way to manage these crazy lives, I’ve found, is to categorize our lives. To shuffle our various commitments, desires, goals, and relationships into different boxes. Here is our work, here is our family, here is our physical body, here is our home, here is our public spiritual life of church and discipleship groups, here is our private spiritual life of prayer and devotionals, here is our sin struggle, here is our pattern of bad habits, here are our emotions that are difficult to express. It’s easy to find a nice label to stick on these different compartments of our life, making our individual world’s look like well-organized closets, plastic bins lining the walls – each with a lid keeping things well-kept and orderly.
Some boxes stay untouched for years, other’s are opened every day. And then there are the few that get pushed so far to the back that we forget they exist as they collect dust and their contents gradually decay.
This is the easiest way to handle our many faceted, extraordinarily complicated lives. This is the easiest way to feel like we’re in control, that we’ve achieved some sort of order in all the chaos we were born into, that we’ve got a handle on things. We can feel proud of our neat, little closets. Look at how well we’re managing our world. Look at how tidy it is. This is the easiest way, and this is the emptiest way.
We may have found a system for staying on top of life, or most of it at least (never mind those boxes in the corner, we can forget those exist), but we move through it detached and disintegrated. With each lid snapping into place, containing the contents of our life, we tell ourselves that nothing is allowed to touch, that our exercise plays no part in our emotions, that our community has no affect on our work, that our leisure won’t matter in our relationships. With each box sliding into it’s place on the shelf, we limit the abundance allowed to enter our lives.
Each box is a mark of a fragmented and disintegrated life.
But then Jesus comes. The same Jesus who came into a temple and flipped over tables in frustration. The same Jesus who shook up all the tidy, cultural standards of who could sit with who and who was allowed where. The same Jesus who named the unclean clean, who stripped away the neat boundaries of rules and regulations.
He comes and he asks us to take off the lids, to throw away the labels, to toss out the boxes. One by one he helps us empty the contents of our life into a single pile. Everything is mixed together now. My diet has bearing on my emotions, my relationships run into my workplace, my spiritual life is changing my physical health, my private prayer life seeps into my chores around the house, my church community impacts the way I interact with the grocer and the bank teller. Things become wildly more messy, infinitely more complicated. And overflowing with breathtaking abundance.
“Jesus came to respond to the universal human need to know how to live well. He came to show us how, through reliance on him, we can best live in the universe as it really is. That is why he said, ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’” – Dallas Willard, Hearing God
Jesus’ plan for us is not to keep things tidy and well maintained. It isn’t for us to find a system that works to get from A to B to C in a smooth routine. It is not to keep a tight lid on the dozens of things that affect our days.
Jesus’ plan for us is to live our lives well.
To be in touch with our emotions, to thrive in our work, to cultivate life-giving relationships, to understand scripture, to take care of our bodies, to sing his praise in pews and on morning commutes, to notice the baristas and the custodians, to create an atmosphere of warmth and restoration in our homes. And most of all to do these things in light of the truth that they are all connected and woven together inseparably by the careful hand of Christ.
There is nothing in our normal, ordinary, day-to-day lives that is out of reach of Jesus’ involvement.
Jesus came as human, wearing the flesh that we know as reality. He walked on our soil – his sandaled feet kicking up the dirt of this very earth. He ate real food and sat under the same sun and experienced thirst for actual water and gave hugs and went to parties. He came as human to this earth that we might know abundant life. Not abundance in abstract theories or intellectual realms. He came to offer us real, tangible, gritty abundance to be experienced in this present reality.
No more boxes, no more labels, but a life overflowing, bursting at the seams, dripping with abundance.