I’ve noticed something about my days that needs to stop. For quite some time, I have just been getting through one day until the next one comes. I’ve caught myself lately thinking things like, ‘well, I managed to do all the morning rituals (take supplements, make tea, cook) that keep me alive. Only 10 more hours to go.’ Or, ‘thank goodness lunch is over. Just one more meal to cook and then I’m finished.’ I measure my life in survival. Not too long ago I was having trouble falling asleep because I didn’t want to sleep. In my weirdly-flawed logic, falling asleep meant having to wake up and do all of this surviving again and, frankly, I’d just rather not.
Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I believe Him. But then I look at my life and think, what gives? In the midst of this mere survival I say, “this can’t possibly be all there is. How exactly is this a full life?” Well, it’s not. So then I asked what Jesus meant by a full life and another verse jumped out to me. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11a). In God’s presence, we find life… to the full.
I need to change the way I believe a full life FEELS. Otherwise my life will continue to be about surviving or waiting for some elusive fullness as I understand it. I’ve believed for so long that the people who are out there with healthy bodies being active are the ones who are thriving. I see that kind of life as full, a life I’m just waiting to have before I can start actually living. Now I know that God wants me to stop biding my time and start thriving right where I am.
But how? I’ve started to ask God a lot in the last few days when I’ve found myself dwelling on an illness that just WILL NOT GO AWAY, how I can thrive here. When I haven’t left the house in over a week, when I’ve missed church and CR and small group because I’m nauseous and running a fever… God, what does it look like to fully live HERE? And I think the above verse gives us the answer. Being constantly aware of the presence of God is how we live a full life. I have been allowing Satan to steal my life by making it just about survival, kill my joy by steering my focus to my illness, and destroy my peace by keeping me longing for the wrong definition of life to the full and disappointed when it doesn’t come.
Life to the full doesn’t have to feel good in the moment, but I sure am sleeping better. When I think about God’s definition of a full life, I am living it more now than I was when I was active and leaving the house regularly. I am aware of God with me through most of my days, I have taken risks I never would have taken before because I was acutely aware that He was nudging me, I am beautifully connected heart-to-heart with God and, even though it’s sometimes hard for me to mean this, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, even health. I have more of a spiritual peace than I have ever had, even though nothing about my physical life is peaceful.
So what does thriving look like here in this place of pain? Psalm 126:5-6 says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Living life to the full means continuing on in faith AND pain, believing there will be joy. It is communing with God from our sick bed, telling Him how we feel and listening for His voice. It is lying here letting Him comfort us. It’s singing to Him in the midst of the battle raging inside of us. It’s doing whatever we can to help others from where we are, even if it’s just praying for someone or checking on them. Those are the best things we can do anyway. For me today, it’s writing this blog from the couch wrapped in two blankets longing for some physical relief. I asked God for the words and He chose to give them so, I write for His glory. Everything we do is worship. We just have to choose who or what we are worshipping.
This is living life to the full. I don’t have to wait for some future fullness. I already have it now. Praise be to God. I think I finally understand Psalm 27:13, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”