Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Abundant Living: Why settle for anything less?

Jesus said, ". . .  I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of!"                      John 10:10b (The Message)

Can we have an abundant life when our world is falling down around us?  Can we experience abundant living . . .

When our husband loses his job and can’t seem to
     find another one?

When our teenage son is arrested for drunk driving?

When our house is foreclosed and we have no place to go?

When we don’t share the same faith as our spouse?

When  . . . ?

Corrie and Betsie TenBoom watched the only world they’d ever known crumble down around them.  They were arrested for helping rescue Jews in wartime Holland.  And years later, Corrie wrote about her experience in the book, The Hiding Place. 
Listen to what she says. . .

“On either side doors opened into two still larger rooms—by far the largest dormitories we had yet seen.  Betsie and I followed a prisoner—guide through the door at the right.  Because of the broken windows the vast room was in semi-twilight.  Our noses told us first, that the place was filthy:  somewhere the plumbing had backed up, the bedding was soiled and rancid.  Then as our eyes adjusted to the gloom we saw that there were no individual beds at all, but great square piers stacked three high, and wedged side by side and end to end with only an occasional narrow aisle slicing through.

We followed our guide single file — the aisle was not wide enough for two—fighting back the claustrophobia of these platforms rising everywhere above us.  At last she pointed to a  second tier in the center of the large  block. 

To reach it we had to stand on the bottom level, haul ourselves up, and then crawl across three other straw-covered platforms to reach the one that we would share with — how many?  The deck above us was too close to let us sit up.  We lay back struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw.

Suddenly I sat up, striking my head on the cross-slats above.  Something pinched my leg.

‘Fleas!’ I cried.  ‘Betsie (her sister), the place is swarming with them!’

We scrambled across the intervening platforms, heads low to avoid another bump, dropped down to the aisle, and edged our way to a patch of light.

‘Here!  And here another one!’ I wailed.  ‘Betsie, how can we live in such a place!’

‘Show us.  Show us how.’  It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying.

‘Corrie!’ she said excitedly.  ‘He’s given us the answer!   Before we asked, as He always does!  In the Bible this morning.  Where was it?  Read that part again!’

‘Oh yes, . . . To one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus . . .’

‘That’s it, Corrie !  That’s His answer.  Give thanks in all circumstances!  That’s what we can do.  We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’

I  stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.

‘Such as?’ I said.

‘Such as being assigned here TOGETHER.’

I bit my lip, ‘Oh yes, Lord Jesus!’

‘Such as what you’re holding in your hands.’

I looked down at the Bible.  ‘Yes! Thank you, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here!  Thank you for all the women, here in this room, who will meet you in these pages.’

‘Yes,’ said Betsie.  ‘Thank you for the very crowding here.  Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!’  She looked at me expectantly.  ‘Corrie!’  she prodded.

‘Oh, all right.  Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds.’

‘Thank you,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for —’

The fleas!  This was too much.  ‘Betsie, there ‘s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’

‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted.  ‘It doesn’t say, “in pleasant circumstances.”  Fleas are a part of this place where God has put us.’

And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for the fleas.  But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong . . .”

Corrie and Betsie  were able to hold worship services in their barracks in complete freedom from the guards.  Listen to what Corrie continues to write . .


. . . One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood gathering foray outside the walls.  Betsie was waiting for me, as always.  Her eyes were twinkling.

‘You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself.’  I told her. 

‘You know we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,’ she said.  ‘Well — I’ve found out.’

That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it. 

‘But she wouldn’t.  She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards.  And you know why?’

Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice:  ‘Because of the fleas!  That’s what she said,   “That place  is crawling with fleas!” ‘

My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place.  I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

Corrie and Betsie, in spite of their circumstances, chose to live the life God had for them. In a place of incredible filth and pain they experienced the abundant life of a Christian who chooses to take God at His Word and trust in Him.

Are you willing to pursue the ABUNDANT LIFE God offers to those who follow Him with all their heart, like Corrie and Betsie did? 

 If Corrie were here today, I know that she would say it’s the only way to truly live!   

So why should we settle for anything less?

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