Last Spring, I had a family friend come and look at my riding lawn mower. For the past six years it hasn’t started correctly. No joke, it would literally take me about forty-five minutes to get it started and then only another forty-five minutes to cut my grass (and this was the well-rehearsed excuse my neighbors were used to hearing).
That day Paul met me at the house to pick up the mower so he could take it to his home for some repairs. As we loaded it onto his truck, he noticed my screen door. It was wide open, and the hydraulic arm that is suppose to keep is shut was missing.
“What’s wrong with your door?” he said.
“The hydraulic arm doesn’t work right… it kind of slips out of place and so then it won’t shut it all the way… I think we are going to get a new door soon.”
His response was a swift, “Hold on,” and then he walked to his truck, returning with a few tools. Within seven minutes he got that door realigned so that it shut correctly and he fixed the hydraulic closer. No slip. Problem solved.
But as he was double checking to make sure it worked right, he tried shutting my backdoor and noticed it wasn’t closing right either. He looked towards me and said, “Did you know it did that?”
I have no idea what I said.
Apparently, I wasn’t very convincing though. I was just starting in with another excuse about how I hadn’t fixed it yet when he walked away mid-story. Back to his truck he went, reappearing with one screw.
One screw later my back door was working like it was brand new. Hannah had been inside the house and noticed that “project lawnmower” had extended beyond addressing our curb appeal. She was pretty grateful that projects were getting knocked out right and left, while I was praying to God that Paul wouldn’t find anything else. As soon as he left, Hannah greeted me at our fully functioning screen door with confusion in her voice, “Why didn’t you show him the broken dishwasher?”
Believe it or not, I can be quite handy. But because of some of my experiences with my house and our general pace of life, I had settled with the way things were. And to be honest, I tended to complain about the lawnmower, the screen door and the dishwasher. But they weren’t as big of a problem as I thought they were. They weren’t really the problem at all.
The problem lied within me.
Home maintenance is not the only arena where I have seen this attitude perk up. In fact, this story hints at a broader, human issue that is bigger than me:
The natural currents of life can push us towards a mentality of settling.
“I guess this is just how my backdoor will work.”
“I guess this is just how my career will go.”
“I guess this is just the marriage I signed up for.”
If we aren’t paying attention, our day to day, our pace, our approach to how we do things can cause us to overlook the life we were created for. Our experiences often cause us to alter our expectations, and we can to settle for a life that’s less than God intended.
But Jesus wants to change that.
One of the most astonishing claims Jesus makes is found in the gospel of John. He is teaching his disciples, trying to give them a clear picture of who he really is and why he really came. They knew his life was different from theirs, but they still didn’t understand that he was the Author of Life. Miracle after miracle, teaching after teaching, they witnessed a life whose experiences and expectations continued to extend beyond their own. And even still, they had a hard time believing that Jesus could continue to pull off that type of lifestyle.
That must have been amazing to watch- both Jesus’s life, and his disciples’ lack of faith. Jesus didn’t let up, though. Despite their unbelief, Jesus finished this teaching with an unbelievable promise for them, and all who would choose to follow Him: “I came that [those who follow me] may have life and have it abundantly.”
Interesting word, abundantly.
Other English versions of the Bible say, “life to the fullest” or “a life rich and satisfying.” What’s important to capture is the sense of extension in the word.
It’s about a life that is excessive.
Beyond the scope of normal.
Beyond the scope of need.
And it is not just a claim, it’s a promise.
ALL ON THE TABLE
Before you dismiss or downsize what Jesus really means, let me just say that I have done the same thing. I tended to have a problem with what He said. It just feels too… Disney, too Strawberry Shortcake, too Paw Patrol (can you tell what our kids watch?), too good to be true. And I have a story, a part of my past, that can make me skeptical and cynical of statements like that. I’m sure you do too.
But this promise didn’t come from Disney.
It was spoken by Jesus. It was uttered by the Son of God, whose words gave birth to the goodness of all creation and life; the one who is full of grace and truth. When He gave us this word, He fully understood all of its implications, all of its weight, and He still chose to put it all out on the table and give us a chance to believe Him.
That leads you and I both to a line of questioning we must wrestle with. It is not, “Where have I settled?” Or “What is the catch?” Not yet. It’s this:
Do I believe Him?
Did Jesus really mean that, and did really He mean that for me?
Do I really live like I believe Jesus came to give me life beyond the point of normal and need?
Do I believe that there is a fullness to life, a soul-satisfying existence, that I was created for?
Jesus put it all out on the table. Am I willing to do the same with Him?
I think those are hard, loaded questions. I realize, too, that there are probably a lot more questions, objections, and qualifications filling up your mind. And I will get to some of that next. However I would be careless if moved on to answering some of those “how’s” and “what’s” without stopping, leaving you and I to ponder what is at the heart of it all; what could be one of the biggest decisions of our lives.
Do I trust Jesus?
 John 10:10.
 John 1:3-5
 John 1:14
Photo by Timothy Mancari.