The thought of September always makes me feel warm and cozy. It is my birth month, and I grew up with a mother who loved to celebrate my birthday. Colorful decorations. Balloons. A big, beautiful butter cake covered in thick glossy chocolate frosting topped with pink candles. Piles of presents wrapped in slick paper adorned with flowers or hearts or Strawberry Shortcake. Bows and ribbons. Dinner of my choice (which usually included garlic bread hot from the broiler). My mom’s smiling face as I partook of it all.
September makes me reflect on the abundant life I have in Jesus. Every good thing is from Him (see James 1:17). The beauty of foods and family and gifts and colors and love. The month presents me extra opportunities to celebrate goodness and life.
Ah, life. The abundant life. There’s only one source of it and only one way to it: His name is Jesus. In John 14:6, Jesus declares, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV, emphasis added). Jesus is life. Yes, God knit every human being together in their mother’s womb, and everyone on Earth has physical life. But THE LIFE—true life, the abundant life we were created for—requires a personal relationship with Jesus. By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Jesus tells His followers, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19, NIV). What kind of life is He talking about? True life! Abundant life! The life. Once we believe in and partner with Jesus, He fills us with the Holy Spirit, and our life gets to become what it was designed for: to be in relationship with God and to reflect Him in this world. We are honored with the task of carrying on the works of Jesus in our generation and time and space. Gulp. (See John 14:12)
Once we come and see Jesus and accept Him, then we embark on the abundant life: knowing Him more and more; doing His will; becoming more like Him; telling others about Him in word and deed; being comforted; no longer wandering alone and purposeless. To quote Michael Jackson in the song, “Heal the World,” we followers of Jesus get to “stop existing and start living.”
Jesus is talking about us His sheep when he says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, KJV). In the abundant life we have freedom, we are cared for, and we find provision. Psalm 23 sums it up. “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:5-6, NLT, emphasis added).
Tables, feasts, oil, excess, extravagance, lavishness, goodness, mercy, honor, eternity. What kind of God do we serve?! What kind of a life is this?! Hallelujah!
Abundant life in the here and now doesn’t mean there won’t be troubles or hardships (remember, the feast is “in the presence of my enemies”), but rather that we will live in victory and blessings in the midst of the broken world. And all the while we look forward to the ultimate fulfillment of abundant life when Jesus will make all things new and we will sit around a heavenly feast with Him our King.
The longer I walk in the abundant life, the more I see that everything is “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7, NIV). The more I notice the beauty of His hand all over the place, in every nook and cranny. And the more I treasure celebrating and seeing others celebrate the goodness of God. In his book, The Grace Awakening, Chuck Swindoll sums up this glorious facet of the abundant life: “Those who claim the freedom God offers gain an appreciation for the gifts that come with life.”
O, it is good when we notice and honor and worship and praise the Lord! Like when Hezekiah and the people rejoiced because of what God had done and then lavishly celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem with abundance in joy, food, generosity, singing, and music (see 2 Chronicles 29-30). It is always a good time when we praise the Lord—that’s at the heart of the abundant life.
I try to notice and bask in the abundant life every day of the year. However, I must admit I am especially looking forward to my birthday celebration this month. When I breathe in the smell of baking butter cake wafting through my mother’s house and behold the people and presents and love around the table prepared for me my heart will sing extra praises to my God.
I was blind, now I’m seeing in colour
I was dead, now I’m living forever
I had failed, but You were my Redeemer
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure
I am counting every blessing
Counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting
When I cannot see
Surely Your goodness pursues me
Surely Your heart is still for me
I will remember Your mercies
All my days
Through every storm and gale
-From “Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective
Destiny Teasley lives in Nevada, where she is a lover of the arts, pop culture, and travel (you'll often find her daydreaming about being in Israel or Disneyland). She delights in encountering beauty in the world and helping others to see and celebrate it for themselves. Destiny studied at Baylor, UNLV, Oxford, and Dallas Theological Seminary. You can find more of her writing at her blog,whentherockscryout.com .