In a few short hours my sister, Alaina, and her four kids will be here. Here, in my town, in my home ready to play for the entire week. I am pumped! I have fully stocked my fridge and pantry with all the things necessary to fuel our fun, as well as secure my standing as a cool aunt. (Note: cool aunts always have Nutella.) I have cleaned (enough), restocked toothbrushes and kids’ soap, bought additional pool towels, and charged every remote in the house so that our favorite movies are just a touch away. I have prepared. I started preparing weeks ago checking schedules for our favorite activities, calendaring potential plans, and dreaming thoughtfully of how it will all be. Last week I made lists: “to do,” “to buy,” “to organize;” and in the last couple of days I executed those lists. Now in the last few hours I square away all the final tasks to be ready to fully indulge and play for the next six days (including writing this blog).
As I read the Word of God this morning, I imagined the picture described in Chronicles of what it was like at the dedication of the temple as all the preparation, both David’s and Solomon’s, had come to fruition and the presence of God dwelled so fully that His glory prevented the Levites from entering. The Israelites celebrated. They worshipped. They ate and sang and delighted in God’s goodness. God’s abundance was evident.
Jesus describes for us this same spiritual abundance in John 10:9-10, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John has recorded for us Jesus’s declaration of Himself as Shepherd in the previous verses, and now goes further to say not only is He the shepherd who watches and cares for His sheep within the gate, but that He is the gate. He is the door. He is the way (John 14:6). The Father has made preparation and Jesus is the life of abundance we are called to enjoy. We celebrate in His presence. We eat and sing and worship and live in joyful recognition that “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
Negative pride lures us into an attitude of false humility when we despise the gift of God’s goodness by declining to delight in His presence. He has prepared to be with His people through the death of His Son. We do not honor God by stroking the scars of past sin, we do not honor God by resisting His gifts in the name of unworthiness, we do not honor God by trying to earn His favor. We honor God by enjoying His spiritual abundance. We honor Him by eating from His Word, singing His praise, and walking in the warmth of His love.
Very soon, the sound of car doors will pierce the silence in my house, and I will fling open the door to faces delighted to be here and for whom I have happily prepared. They will not edge in the door and stand sheepishly to the side. They will not decline my food even though they did not pay for it, nor will they resist the comfort of my home regardless of the fact that they did nothing to earn it. To my delight, they will empty the toy bins to the floor, they will help themselves to my “magic refrigerator,” they will eat and ask for more. They will ask me to play with them and follow me around to see what there is to see. Without even realizing it they will express the most precious gratitude by fully enjoying the pleasure of our relationship and they will return to me my effort one hundred fold simply by accepting the glad provisions.
Thanks to the confounding grace of God through the death and resurrection of His only, beloved Son, Jesus, we are invited to throw off the weight of sin and to rest in His forgiveness and mercy. Those who enter will be saved (John 10:9). Saved, yes from death and Hell, but also saved to an abundant today. Saved from a life outside His presence. Saved to abide. Saved to abundance.