From my place in line, I watched the roller coaster slowly making its way to the top of the first drop. The many thrill seekers strapped in their seats were actually lying on their backs, their pale faces staring up at the stars.
From that angle, they couldn’t even see when the coaster crested the top, but they knew. Suddenly they were sitting up and, in a millisecond, face down, plummeting to the ground. If they lived through the first drop, there was more fun to be had.
What had I gotten myself into? Was there a way out of this line? I must be crazy. My stomach churned with nervous excitement. Part of me could hardly wait to get on. Another part of me wanted to run screaming from the line.
Why do I do this to myself? Because I love it. I love roller coasters. I love sitting in the very front, hanging over the edge for an extra second while the rest of the train catches up.
Yup, I’m a thrill seeker. I’ve been parasailing, white-water rafting, rock climbing, high ropes courses, ziplining, and more.
Given the opportunity (and the financing) I would also go skydiving, base jumping, and ride on that giant swing thousands of feet high in a Colorado canyon. I live abundantly.
But is squeezing out of life every thrill possible what it means to live abundantly? Whenever I sign a copy of my book for someone, I always write “Live Abundantly” John 10:10 above my signature.
In that verse, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV)
Surely, Jesus wasn’t talking about roller coasters, although maybe base jumping off the top of Masada was a thing back then. This verse is in between two “I Am” statements. I am the door and I am the good shepherd.
Jesus says he is the door to the sheepfold. We are his sheep. A door has two uses—getting in and keeping out. He says that all who enter through him will be saved.
And, as the door, he will keep his sheep safe from those who try to get in to steal or kill them. Immediately following John 10:10, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11 ESV)
So, the abundant life that Jesus is talking about may just be living in peace and rest, confident that the good shepherd is watching over us. And we don’t worry about what he will do because has already proven himself faithful.
He laid down his life for his sheep. He loves us and is in control of our circumstances, our concerns, and our future. And the life he laid down has covered everything in our past.
Is there something from your past keeping you from experiencing the abundant life Jesus offers?
Whatever holds you back or keeps you from abundant living has no power over you if you belong to Jesus. He has set you free from the past, whether it was your own sin or someone’s sin against you. “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
The abundant life he offers is for here and now. You don’t need to wait to be glorified to experience abundant life. And it doesn’t need to be a life full of thrills and chills to be abundant.
I visited a friend who has been housebound for quite a while with different physical ailments. She told me she is content, and I saw the peace on her face. She enjoys the calls and visits from friends, but her days are not very exciting.
And she is OK with that. She has found the secret of living abundantly in circumstances that seem anything but thrilling – contentment. She doesn’t have time for worry or fear or doubt or regret.
She’s too busy being content with where God has her right now. I was encouraged by our visit. Funny thing, I went there to encourage her and left being the one encouraged.
That’s what happens when you run into people living abundantly; it spills over into others’ lives.
My turn came to board the roller coaster. The butterflies in my stomach had turned into pterodactyls. It was a slow, unnerving crawl to the top, then WHOOSH. I laughed as others screamed.
A few more belly-womper hills and some twists and turns, and within thirty terrifying seconds, we were coasting to a stop. “Let’s do it again!” was my first thought after getting my shaky legs working again.
It’s probably time I find less-thrilling thrills. But, for now, my abundant life includes occasional adrenaline rushes. And I love it!
Lisa Radcliff is a writer, speaker, women’s Bible study teacher, and a 35-year volunteer youth worker, residing in Pennsburg, PA. She is a wife, mom, and mom-mom who loves God’s Word but also loves football, chocolate, shoes, and Maine. Her hobbies include quilting, shopping, cooking, and raising Seeing Eye puppies. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.