It has been quite a while now since my mother passed away, but recently I have been thinking about her and a deep sense of loss and loneliness has settled in over me. I wouldn’t call it depression or anxiety, but instead just a longing to see her again, tell her things that I know would make her happy, and tell her one more time how much I love her.
I’ve had these episodes in the past regarding my mother and father so I know that I will get through this time and carry on with my life. Lately, however, I’ve been wondering if life shouldn’t be about more than just carrying on.
In John 10 we are introduced to a wonderful picture of Jesus as the good shepherd that cares for us and watches over us. He never abandons, forgets or neglects us in anyway. Reading through the chapter we discover there are three great blessings associated with trusting in Jesus.
We are given the gift of salvation. “I am the door, if any one enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9 Salvation is a matter of trusting in God. It is the acknowledgment that we can’t earn merit with God but are the recipients of the wonderful gift of grace.
My greatest longing is that Christians, who try to mingle both justification and their Christian walk into some super spiritual experience that will impress God, would simply come to the cross empty handed and accept grace. “The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:1b
Verse 9 also says that we “will go in and out and find pasture.” Pasture in the scripture is equivalent to rest and refreshing. When sheep go out to pasture the shepherd watches over them, and any shepherd worth his salt will make sure that the sheep are led to pastures where there is lush grass and water.
In the 23 Psalm we are told that the good shepherd makes us, “lie down in green pastures, and leads us by still waters.” In John 6 Jesus tells the crowds to sit down in the green grass and later will calm the storm on the Sea of Galilee.” Jesus is proving peace, safety and rest for those who have found salvation in Him.
The word peace in the New Testament has the connotation of trusting in God’s promises. Real peace comes when we lay our burdens down and put our trust in the words of God. There is a third blessing that flows from our relationship with the good shepherd and that is we are given life more abundantly. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
When my mother died I couldn’t understand how I could ever have life abundantly again. Over time I have come to understand that “abundantly” doesn’t necessarily mean prosperity and receiving wonderful gifts, but it means being able to rejoice in the wonders of God when life isn’t always at its best.
An abundant life is a trusting life. It is a life that says God you are God and I am not you, so I put my faith in your abundant love for me. The abundant life gives me assurance that I will see my mom and dad again in the Kingdom of Heaven. It gives me assurance that by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus poured out at Calvary I have eternal life.
The abundant life is based on the great blessing of salvation, and the assurance of salvation leads to peace of mind. And that peace and contentment of being children of God is what the abundant life is all about.
Yes, I miss my mother, and many of you miss your loved ones as well. When we think about them there is sadness because we loved them and would love to have them in our lives again. This is normal and in many ways healthy. But, just writing this post I already feel the sadness disappearing and life abundant entering into my heart.
The Holy Spirit brings joy where despair once lay and He brings peace to where the heart aches. I am thankful for the love of God that covers me in assurance and peace.
Yes the rains may fall and the storms blow strong against us, but the good shepherd never leaves us nor abandons us. “And those who know thy name put their trust in thee; for thou, O Lord, has not forsaken those who seek thee.” Psalm 9:10 Amen.
* Persecution of Christians continues – they give their life for their faith so they may have life more abundant… go to http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ for updates on the persecution of Christians – please to continue praying for these people.