By Tim Harris

I love being alive. I love that I am me. I love that God willed me into existence and gave me the gift of my particular life. It’s not profoundly different from other lives, but it is the only one I’ve known and I wouldn’t trade it if given the chance.

My outlook is usually positive, and I generally feel able to take on whatever the world throws my way. I’ve grown up seeing this as a quality and I’ve enjoyed a deep confidence in myself. I intuitively expect that life should always be amazing and I don’t really understand people who don’t see this potential.

In the second phrase of John 10:10, Jesus says “I have come so that you (Tim) may have life and have it to the full.”

Despite all my positivity and excitement about the world and my life, I’ve always grappled with this concept. What does it really mean? My limitations are obvious to me. I’m far from perfect, and it bothers me.

I know that abundance of life should not be measured in material possessions or access to comfort and pleasure, but that just makes we wonder even more about this elusive fullness of life.

Perhaps abundant life is a promise reserved for the eternal realm? But am I entitled to believe it is possible now, while I live on earth?

My “great” life is constantly punctuated with fear, doubt, pain, confusion, separation and lethargy that drain the life I so desperately seek.

I don’t like how fear makes me feel. I don’t welcome the fog of confusion.

But I am Christian, I choose Jesus Christ, and He promised me fullness of life. God knows I’m knocking at the door, impatiently expecting it. So why are those negative elements still so much a part of my experience? Where is this abundant life?

For years I have held an incredibly powerful and positive view of God. This conviction has enabled me to make some big decisions based on trust, which I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make. These decisions have shown the God of my imagining to be personal, faithful and loving.

But, considering my life over the recent months, I recognise how my subconscious image of God has taken a subtle and consistent decline towards a decidedly human view of The Creator.

Subconsciously I’ve imagined myself to be a hassle for God.

Every time I would approach him in prayer he would sigh, lifting his great eyes from his pile of to do lists and other pressing matters and look at me disdainfully, as if I was a real nuisance.

For a long time this image has kept me from genuine prayer. It kept me from hope! And for me, that’s a terrible place to be. I feed off hope and “knowing” that things will work out fine.

During this time I seem to have relegated the gospel message of “life to the full” to the equivalent of some quickly written marketing that I would expect to find on the back of a shampoo bottle. Abundant Life? What!?

The “ability to take on whatever the world throws my way”, that “confidence in myself” that I have clung to for so long has been, gently and unbeknown to me prized from my grip. I have felt vulnerable, open to the dreaded anticipation of failure, and more than ever, fear has taken over.

But along with this, something else has changed in me. It’s as if the promise has started to live.

With thanks to my spiritual advisor (a Jesuit priest), adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and many great Catholics that surround me, I have recognised the distortion of my subconscious image of God. It has been proven, utterly false.

I have understood more deeply, the flavour of spiritual attack and the way it is different to the desolation that God periodically allows me to feel.

I’ve begun a fresh relationship with this God who is so completely opposite to the image I’d almost accepted. And through this experience I have slowly begun to understand what life to the full can mean.

It is in allowing myself to be loved by God. It’s in recognising his supernatural power over EVERYTHING, (including those slippery to do lists). It’s in knowing that I am not the centre of the universe, but that in fact I work for the guy who is!!

And more than this, I can call myself (His) son, (His) own. Through (His) grace I am actually able to accept it. An indescribable abundance is locked up in this truth.

Even as I write, I know the unsure expression that would come over my face if I were to read that line written anywhere else.

If that expression is on your face, or the improbability of its truth frustrates you, that’s okay. Hold on to hope! Something big is coming! It’s called “Abundant Life.”


 

  • Megan Rita Dewhurst

    An Inspiring Read xx

  • Chelsea Rebelo

    Would love to know more about spiritual attack versus desolation! Great read.