EXPOSE | Staring into the “Infinite Abyss”
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?
This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself” – (emphasis mine) Blaise Pascal, Pensees (New York; Penguin Books, 1966), 75.
“…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – (emphasis mine) Jesus (John 10:10)
EXPLORE | No Bucket List Compares
Life abundant. Can skydiving even compare?
Truly understood, could collecting extreme experiences even come close to satisfying the God-designed ache within our souls? Given the popularity of “bucket list”, you’d think so.
Because it is designed by God to only be satisfied by God, filling this “infinite abyss” is going to require more than a bucket and a list.
Glomming on “supposed soul-satisfying” layers can only temporarily distract us from this gaping hole in our soul. No physical effort, no matter how extreme, could address a spiritual problem. We’re not only the wrong person for the job, we lack the right tools. Only Jesus can span the width, depth, and breadth, that is this spiritual chasm.
“Jesus, on the other hand, not only came to bring spiritual life to people, but He came to bring the best quality of life to them. The eternal life that Jesus imparts is not just long, but it is also rich. He did not just come to gain sheep, but to enable His sheep to flourish and to enjoy contentment, and every other legitimately good thing possible.” – Dr. Thomas L. Constable
There simply isn’t a bucket list that could account for the plentiful quantity and quality of life that Jesus provides. When He provides life, is it life that is “all-around, “more than”, beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation, going past the expected limit.” – Strong’s Concordance definition of “abundant”
What would it look like to kick the bucket [list] for the abundant life?
EXECUTE | Plugging the Hole in the Soul
I don’t want to imply in any way that the abundant life could be complied into a list. In my tour of the New Testament (half now, the other half is highlighted in Part 2), I plucked out possibilities from each book to help explore what God intended by “life abundant” in ways we may never have before.
1. Fast for longer than a day (in a healthy way, of course).
Or, fast your way through a challenging trial.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry…” – Matthew 4:1-2
2. Command a mountain to be “taken up and thrown into the sea.”
You’ve probably heard the expression, ‘faith that moves mountains.’ Have you ever prayed in this way? Or, rested in God with such confidence, as to have no doubt when believing great things?
“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” – Mark 11:23
3. Cleanse the temple… at least once.
It may not require you to flip tables, but, when conviction erupts, your voice should be heard. Is there correction you need to bring to where you fellowship?
“And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”” – Luke 19:45-46
4. Track down the answer to your most perplexing question of/about God.
What is that one thing you just don’t get about God? Maybe it is something you’ve been hiding from? Or, something that keeps tripping you up over and over? Going directly to Jesus, even in the cover of darkness, is the way to address it.
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”” – John 3:1-4
5. Give ’til it feels incredible.
Give past the point of obligation, until you’re giving cheerfully; realizing that what we own is not ours to keep, but ours to share.
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” – Acts 4:32
6. Do not be ashamed.
Do you fear being exposed as a follower of Christ? Is it dependent on the situation? What next step could you take to begin dialing back the defenses?
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16
Look, all I need is one sixteen
To brag on my king
We brag about him daily ‘cause he runs this thing
Can I do it?
Can I do it?
From “One Sixteen” by Trip Lee
7. Begin treating your body as a temple.
And we’re not just talking about dieting. If the Spirt of God was an invited guest, what should the place look like?
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16
8. Let God’s grace be sufficient.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
9. Live one whole day by the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23
10. Speak the truth. Only the truth.
Truth is what you have left when you put away falsehood. How many relationships would have otherwise been strengthened and healed had the truth been spoken?
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” – Ephesians 4:25
11. Count all as loss.
What are you counting as gain that isn’t Christ?
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish…” – Philippians 3:7-8
12. Kill every idol.
It is so serious, God wrathfully opposes it.
“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come…” – Colossians 3:5-6
13. Remember, your faith will be reported on.
What would your report look like? Would it be longer than a paragraph? Write down what you think it might look like, and then ask a close friend take a red pen to it.
“But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love…Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7
The abundant life is full of the unexpected–leading us through unique, heart pounding circumstances that are truly life-changing. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t require any special equipment, travel, or that you use up precious vacation time, you won’t need to share your list with anyone–it will be self-evident.