I have come to give you everything in abundance,
more than you expect, life in its fullness until you overflow!
John 10:10 Passion Translation
If anything is true of the believer in Jesus, it is that the in-Christ life is one of profound mystery. Not mystery like the answer to a division problem in math for a grade school student, but more like the intriguing mystery when you’re two-thirds through a great novel and you have to stay up half the night to finish reading (because there’d be no sleep until you knew!). Or maybe mystery like the mesmerizing allure of aromas wafting from a kitchen when you’re attempting to conquer a DIY flat-pack project (continued concentration is so hard!). There are statements made by Jesus, like the one above, that are tantalizing just like that. Everyone hearing or reading these words will try to figure out what the ‘everything’ is and just exactly what the accompanying ‘abundance’ is. The calculation may be based on priorities which may be money, influence, number of children, cars, clothing, shoes, friends, even happiness. In any case, those two words are majorly difficult to quantify. And, really, what could possibly be more than we expect? How would we know? And then I love the wording in the final phrase of the Passion Translation! Life ‘in its fullness’ followed by ‘until you overflow.’ Sounds like a life jam-packed, stuffed to the gills, super-saturated, with the best of the best, and all this, as a gift! The mind reels just considering the implications.
Just returning from the funeral service for my brother, I believe I’ve received fresh insight into the meaning of ‘overflow.’ His three children each expressed knowing that they were his favorite. Allen lavishly expressed his unwavering pride and love of each of his children, regardless of their sometimes disappointing choices and behaviors. Then, his ten grandchildren, speaking from the podium at the service (when tears abated) expressed their confidence that they were, without a doubt, his favorite, because their grandfather had told them so. In the end, their fierce competitiveness notwithstanding, they were content in the sweet, mysterious understanding that they were all his favorites. This doesn’t compute mathematically or logically, but it expresses the far reachings of a love shared with abandon, without prejudice. And then there were the tears, the sobbing, the inability to utter a word by some when in the spotlight to tell of their relationship, the funny stories, the miles driven to participate in their special events, the gigantic, never-again-to-be-filled, hole created by Dad’s/Papa’s passing.
For me, this display of emotion piled joy into my soul at knowing my brother, in turning the corner, had found, and celebrated, a joy-filled freedom to share with any and all, his appreciation of this life that was now his. The idea of being related to a man widely loved and called ‘Big Papa’ by current and former colleagues was at least part of the ‘more than I could expect.’ Knowing that the father wounds of his childhood (the source of his angry rebellion) had been healed to such an extent that he was free to voice his deep affection liberally, was both a revelation and a subject of wonder – and worship. May we all experience this truth: If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed! I’ll gladly embrace this mystery! Following is the song sung at the end of the funeral service, a song of sadness/celebration. PD