I suppose each person has their own idea of what an abundant life looks like, but I am pretty sure people agree on what it feels like to lack one. The promise of an abundant life is perhaps one of the most abused promises precisely because of our individual interpretations. And when those interpretations are mostly external, expectations are likely to be disappointed.
The one sure place to look for signs of an abundant life is the only one who really understood what one was. And I suppose even Jesus, like the rest of us, suffered interruptions of that life, particularly in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. But if the signs of an abundant life were purely external, then only ones who could enjoy it are those whose life and health are perfect. And those are few and far between. Yet, though I believe that that life is available to everyone, I still think it is very rare. This world is a hard place, often, and the spiritual discipline of maintaining joy and peace in the face of tribulation difficult indeed.
I remember being a single mother constantly worried about court, about money, about childcare, and about my job. The Lord kept saying to me Peace I give to you, not as the world gives, but Peace that surpasses understanding. I would hold on to that voice in my spirit and get through the next minute, hour, or day. And I wondered, how do I live in that place all the time?
Many years have passed and my journey seems as meandering as the Hebrews in the wilderness at times. And yet, I understand better what the keys are to that life we long for. And first, one must recognize that that life is lived internally first before it moves to the external. If abundance came from the outside, then the suicides of wealthy, successful individual would not be in the news. But recognizing this is difficult. It feels as if all my problems were solved then my soul would feel complete.
But we are not made to operate on our external circumstances. Our fuel comes from the Holy Spirit, not anything the world can give. These signs are the ones by which I judge if I am living my best life from a place of abundance versus surviving. And in all honesty, one can only tell for themselves if they are experiencing this abundant life. It may not be immediately obvious to others.
Signs you live an Abundant Life:
You hear God’s voice regularly.
Jesus says I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Given that He is that abundant life that you seek, hearing his voice indicates that He lives in you and that you are in communion with Him. This is key. God speaks to us in a myriad of ways, and to each of us slightly differently. But if that still small voice is visiting you regularly, you are in communication with Him, Life personified.
You feel His presence.
We feel the presence of God in our spirits. From there, that presence communicates itself to our soul and to our body. I rejected early on the idea that experiencing God’s presence could not be relied on as a genuinely spiritual necessity. While it takes time and maturity to discern the difference between His presence and merely a good mood, knowing that God was with me and feeling His love inside me is crucial to my daily well-being! How can we say that we are in love with God and yet never feel His loving presence wrap around our hearts? That is a lonely religion indeed.
The peace inside you grows over time.
If we live and move inside of God’s will and presence (which are one and the same), then our separation from our external difficulties will increase. For instance, I used to experience regular and crushing anxiety. Because of my abusive first marriage, fear became an ingrained response. Living in terror will do that to you. But now, when difficult circumstances arise (and oh my goodness, they do!) fear will visit but it isn’t allowed to set up camp in my soul. Events or hard times that used to throw me aren’t as intimidating. I know that God is bigger than my circumstances.
You begin to experience more freedom.
If you are moving within the flow of the Holy Spirit, then chains are getting broken. For instance, I used to be a slave to approval. It didn’t matter that God said the fear of man snares us. I couldn’t free myself from measuring myself by the standards of others. I didn’t merely evaluate myself through the eyes of others, I hinged my happiness on it. Now, approval is not the driving factor in my life. The Lord has freed and is continuing to free me from shame so that I live in much more freedom than I ever thought possible.
I know who I am and where I am going.
We, humans, get lost in the great shuffle of this racing world. We often attach our identities to temporal things like our jobs or our families. But as eternal beings, we gain our worth and identity from God, alone. The world cannot offer anyone a lasting sense of who they are or a destiny that will not eventually fade. Consider how many are forgotten. How many generations back can you trace your lineage. Your life is built to some degree on those who have gone before you. Their reward is not on earth or their names would be remembered. But God knows them and they are a part of that great cloud of witnesses cheering you on.
You are His and everything you do here is leading to a reward and eternal purpose in heaven. Don’t worry if that truth takes some time to sink in. That is a truth we grow into and that grows into us over a lifetime.
An abundant life cannot be built upon emotions which come and go. Nor can it be built upon riches and good fortune which by nature ebb and flow. Our life is built upon the word of God which will stand after everything else has been rolled up like a scroll. Don’t live your life trying to repair things that will pass away. Your life is forever and you must look inward to release the Holy Spirit living in you. He will breathe new life into your body, soul, and spirit, a life that you cannot access without Him.
I know that every blogger has endless reading suggestions. I will just say that I married my husband because he read Dallas Willard. Enough said.
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