Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 9

Yesterday we continued our discussion of what Abundant Life is NOT. We clarified that:

  1. Abundant Life is NOT equal to material wealth.

Though God does care about our physical and even financial needs, wealth is not the ultimate abundant life God offers us. Wealth pales in comparison to the treasure of abundant life God offers us. In addition, we must also realize that:

  1. Abundant Life is NOT equal to the approval of man.

When my daughter was around 10 years old, we began to work with her on becoming more self-sufficient. We wanted her to take responsibility for her daily care, including getting dressed in the mornings. One Sunday in July we decided to go to church with my parents. Their church was more formal than our church, and I sent Katie upstairs to shower, wash her hair, and “put on something decent” which is my way of saying get “dressed up.”

When it was time to leave, I called everyone down to get in the car. I looked up the stairs to see my precious daughter descending the steps. Her blond hair was clean and brushed. She had even tried to curl it with the curling iron. She looked beautiful. I am ashamed to say, however, that I stopped cold in my tracks for the “something decent” she had chosen to wear was the nicest dress in her closet. It was a long-sleeve, black velvet dress with satin trim. Did I mention it was July?

If you grew up in the South, you are feeling my pain of that moment. Every Southern girl knows not to wear black velvet in July. In about 2 seconds, I had a choice to make. Would I worry about what all the other good Southern ladies would think of my mothering? (i.e. “Doesn’t she know not to dress her child in velvet in July?”) Or would I applaud my daughter for not only obeying me but also for going above and beyond what I had asked of her. I am ashamed now that I even had to think it through. I quickly recovered and smiled and hugged her and told her how beautiful she was and how proud I was of her.

I wish I could tell you this type of event only occurred in my younger days. But that is not the truth. I still worry about what people think. I wish I didn’t. I often have to pray, “Lord, heal me of my people-pleasing habits.” I long to get to what I call, “The Third Level of Freedom.”

The first level of freedom comes when we accept Christ and are freed from the chains of sin and death. The next level of freedom comes when those areas of bondage are healed and we are released to serve God with joy. I believe I have in many areas of my life reached the second level of freedom. I find the most joy, most comfort in obedience to God. I truly want to do things His Way. However, I haven’t quite reached the third level of freedom. In the third level of freedom, not only does one find the most joy and comfort in obedience to God, but on top of it all, they don’t worry about what others think about it, so wholly is their focus on Him. I have had moments of that third level of freedom—enough moments to know the difference. Enough moments to realize I have not reached it in all areas of my life.

I have the type personality that relishes peace with everyone. I hate it when I think someone is mad at me, or when I feel I have disappointed anyone. It can send me into a tailspin, even if it is a small issue. Let’s face it, we like people to like us. But we are told that there will be times when people don’t like us, simply because we follow God. Hear the words of John 15:18-20.

 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.  Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

We will sometimes have to disappoint people in order to stay true to God’s call on our lives. I have a feeling that this reality will become even more true in the coming days. We must decide now whom we will serve. And we must trust that if our choice is God Almighty, He will abundantly give us everything we need to have the strength and courage to follow Him. May you settle this today and every day for the rest of your lives. I am praying for you!



But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:16

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