(April 23, 2017) Maureen McQuillan brings a great encouragement …
When you were very young did you have dreams and hopes about what life had to offer you?
I remember as a little girl sitting on the doorstep of our small home in a little country town back in Northern Ireland and dreaming of travelling faraway and – well, many other things too.
I guess we all did something similar. But I wonder… perhaps life has had its disappointments and today you’re sitting somewhere looking back – with regrets.
The too hard basket
Perhaps those little child’s dreams and hopes of yours have long gone, maybe even been shattered. Today they’re in the too hard basket. Maybe you’ve been knocked off your feet by life’s hard knocks and it’s just too difficult to start dreaming and hoping afresh.
Maybe too many doors of opportunity have been slammed in your face, or you feel locked into in an unsatisfactory lifestyle with no apparent way out. You’re thinking: What’s the use of even hoping, never mind dreaming for something better?
And perhaps as you look in the mirror each morning, you realise yet again how time has passed so quickly and you wonder what you have really achieved in life.
As I ministered in the prayer line one Sunday morning, an old lady – a senior to put it more kindly – wept sorrowfully before me, full of regret at not having achieving anything meaningful, not having done enough for Jesus throughout her life, even though she had had the desire to do so.
Maybe that’s you also, whatever your age is right now!
The great claim of Jesus
The reality is that as Christians we are all very special children to God, our loving heavenly Father. We are what the Bible terms the new creation – in Christ our God has created us as unique individuals. We are meant to dream and hope and succeed in life! And to enjoy life! After all, he sent his only Son, Jesus that we may have ‘the abundant life’ highlighted in John 10:10(b).
Abundant! Dictionaries tell us this means existing and available in large quantities – plentiful, ample, overflowing, superabundant, infinite, inexhaustible, opulent, teeming. And this was the great claim of Jesus – which he came to offer us not just as ‘a’ life but as an ‘abundant’ life!
In this scripture it’s the Greek word perissos, a word indicating ‘beyond’ … so we need to think ‘beyond ordinary’ as it indicates superabundant in quantity, superior in quality. The problem with many of us is that we tend to only think of this as the eternal life that Jesus secured for us at Calvary, that great resurrection life that we’ve just celebrated last Easter weekend. Yes, we should rejoice and be thankful – but we just don’t think ‘beyond.’
Abundant life includes much more , praise God! As we follow Jesus, honour his teachings, submit to his leadings, we can enjoy a good life, a full life here and now! Otherwise ‘life here and now’ is pretty empty and miserable indeed. There is no real hope for today – or tomorrow!
For many today, it’s time to renew our dreaming and hoping! The Message Bible speaks of this more abundant life Jesus offers as ‘life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.’ The NLT says, ‘My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.’ Hey… the ‘they’ and ‘them’ Jesus is speaking about is us, every born again Christian!
No wonder that Jesus warned us about Satan, our archenemy, that old liar, deceiver and trickster – he called him a robber of life, stating very clearly, ‘The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.’ Many times our hopes and dreams have been robbed from us not just by life’s adverse circumstances but the devil himself.
Finding new hope for tomorrow
Yes, there are many challenges in life – anyone’s life. But the truth is that Jesus can help us achieve much in life and find great satisfaction. Hopes and dreams can become a reality! Even past pains and disappointments can all be worthwhile when we find new hope of tomorrow.
That old saying, ‘Get a life!’ is pertinent here. Being a follower of Jesus Christ is knowing who he is, what he desires for – and of – us, believing his word and being energetic about living a life well lived. In other words, knowing and living and enjoying that superabundance of life.
It’s been recorded that a dispirited, wretched Roman soldier came to Julius Caesar asking permission to commit suicide. Evidently Caesar looked at him disappointingly and asked point-blank, ‘Man, were you ever really alive?’
Life can throw some nasty curves, it can leave us dispirited. But when we trust Jesus, when we travel with him and embrace the abundant life he gives daily, there comes a new vitality, that superabundance of life. Life becomes really worth living – we begin to live in the real sense of the word… we really do ‘get a life!’ And what a life!
Let me encourage you to renew your hopes and dreams. Hand them over to the one who knows best how to give us the desires of our heart, as well as his own. Life can change, for Ephesians 3:20 says that God is ‘able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or image according to his power that is at work within us.’ And why not have big dreams and hopes (provided they’re balanced, not crazy, of course) – our great God is a big God!
The Message puts this scripture this way (and makes it so exciting!): ‘God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.’
That’s the power of the Holy Spirit, the greatest creative force in the universe. He’s the one who dwells within us, as promised by Jesus (John 14:17). No wonder Paul boldly declared that ‘I can do anything through him who gives me the strength’ (Philippians 4:13).
Let’s claim that scripture as our declaration too! Don’t look back in hopelessness, helplessness. That senior lady I mentioned above took this truth on board and life became so new and alive for her – as it can for any Christian.
Allow the Holy Spirit to give you your dreams and hopes afresh, whether it be in serving Jesus, personal goals, family … whatever. Jesus loves you enough to help you accomplish them! And, at the end of each day, give glory to the Lord.