It’s the word that comes to mind for my 2019.
To be clear, this abundance isn’t the stuff of the prosperity gospel. It’s not an overflowing bank account or the newest and the nicest. It doesn’t mean brand names or the finer things in life.
It’s abundance in friendships and family.
Abundance in my relationship with Jesus.
Abundance in growth and confidence.
Abundance in nearly every part of my life.
It’s abundance from the overflow of who the Father is and the way He loves His kids.
A Generous Portion
In October, I was preparing to return to the States after a month in Thailad, and to be honest, I wasn’t happy about it. Most mornings I felt tears near the surface as I tried to fight the pain of leaving a place and people I loved. But I remember the morning everything flipped. That day, instead of waking up with tears, I woke up with a song—Generous Portion by Cageless Birds. It’s a song that’s depth takes my breath away. It’s the kind I have to listen to on repeat to soak up its meaning. The chorus repeats:
Nothing can stand against us
We've overcome the darkness
We will not surrender
For less than Jesus paid for
He's giving back what's stolen
We can hardly carry the generous portion
This is abundance.
On that morning in Thailand, I remember the tears coming for a different reason. They didn’t come from fear or grief or uncertainty. Instead, they were tears from feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of the Father, by the generous portion that I couldn’t even hold.
Abundance in Advent
This Advent season, abundance is taking on a new meaning. This past year hasn’t overflowed with the typical ideas of “abundance,” but it has been truly, extravagantly abundant. It’s the kind found in that word, “Emmanuel.” God with us.
The birth of Jesus isn’t filled with our typical ideas of abundance either.
Ostracized by their community, Mary and Joseph faced skepticism and gossip and their own tough questions. Their life wasn’t overflowing with support from those around them. Before their first-born son was born—a boy who was God incarnate—they travelled for days to reach Bethlehem. Once they arrived, no one took them in. The only availability was a barn, a stable meant for animals.
Abundance, am I right?
After all this
Jesus was born—the One who would transform our world. His extravagant love would help us see the Father face to face. He was the One who die and rise again and reconcile us with the Father. He would restore all things.
The abundance of worship and a glimpse of heaven overwhelmed shepherds when angels lit up the sky. The holy and sacred led them to their own worship and songs and gifts to Jesus. Wise men who travelled for months offered extravagant gifts to the new parents and their baby.
But to me, the most abundant part of this story is that simple word—Emmanuel. God with us. Some people say that God bankrupted heaven when He sent Jesus to this broken world. I’ve never quite understood that phrase—bankrupted heaven. Heaven was not void of the holy and sacred when Jesus came to earth, but for the first time since those perfect days in the very beginning, Earth breathed a little deeper. It inhaled the tangible and physical presence of God among us. Our cracked and weary souls experienced healing from love and restoration and truth.
God with us.
Abundance in Our Everyday Lives
Maybe this year feels the farthest thing from abundant for you. It feels painful and challenging. Loss, grief, and pain might mark your year. Maybe you’re eager to close 2019 and are hoping that 2020 will be different from the last 365 days.
I get it.
I’ve been there.
But as we reflect and remember and recount moments from this year, may we think about that word—abundance. Because our Father has given us a generous portion. He has given us more than we can hold—even in loss or grief or pain or confusion.
Like the savior of the world born among animals to parents ostracized by their community.
Like the most intense show of love, grace, forgiveness, and selflessness in the tiniest package—a baby in a manger.
Friend, we live in abundance, and it has nothing to do with our own prosperity.
It has everything to do with the Father’s generous portion.