I accepted Christ as my Savior in October 1982 as a young pre-teen recognizing myself a sinner in need of God’s grace. Still, it would be another 18 years before I began to realize that a relationship with God bursts with life and rests on so much more than my sinful nature and God’s redeeming grace. It starts there… But that so much more is the life more abundantly that Jesus died to give us.
And so it was more than ten years ago when my sweet cousin, Sherry, who is more of a sister to me than a cousin, gave me a special gift. I had gone to her house that August day as was my habit every month to get my hair styled and she said, “I finally found you a birthday gift.”
My birthday is in June. I had not arrived expecting a gift.
She disappeared into another room and returned with a gift bag. I pulled the tissue off the top feeling that giddy sense of anticipation that comes with a package prepared just for you.
As I did she began to explain the gift…
“I didn’t really know what to get you for your birthday so I waited. You may already know what it means, but I’ll tell you why I bought it.”
At the time I had begun serving as a women’s ministry leader at church. I dove into two or three Bible studies a week, created beautiful floral arrangements for the altar, ministered to youth and in my spare time I laid my Christian resources out on my living room floor on a regular basis immersing myself in the study of His Word. The life I lived then and the life I live now woven in and out of my time in prayer and the Scriptures. My God not only consumed my time, but He consumed my every thought and very existence. He still does.
I reached the bottom of the well of soft, rustling paper and found the pictured cup wrapped in cellophane and tied with a golden cord. A delicate, beautiful cup and saucer with gold rims and Ephesians 2:10 etched in gold around the cusp of the saucer.
She smiled. “The other day at church we sang a song, ‘I’m sipping from my saucer,’ Do you know it?”
Again I stared at my cup and shook my head. A feeling of joy and knowing beginning to creep up over my toes and into my middle spaces. That place inside of me, from the center of my being, where somehow knowing becomes so much more.
“It says, ‘I’m sipping from my saucer ’cause my cup has overflowed.’ When I saw this cup I knew it was for you. I believe God wants you to know you should only sip from your saucer and never drink from your cup. If you drink from your cup you run the risk of drinking it dry. We are called to live and minister out of the overflow, never from the cup.”
I smiled as the revelation began to wash over me like a good soaking rain. The surfaces were splashed with water, but the revelation had not yet penetrated the ground in my heart. Oh, but it would…
I went home and pulled out my HUGE Strong’s concordance and looked up every verse that had the word overflow and eventually abundance in it.
You spread out a table before me,
provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies;
You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil,
filling my cup again and again with Your grace.
Psalm 23:5 (VOICE)
Back then I was reading the Amplified and here is how Psalm 23:5 reads there:
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.”
If you are middle-aged or older as I am you may remember the old coffee jingle, “Fill it to the rim with Brim.” That idea of running over, dripping down the sides kind of full.
It reminds me of Luke 6:38 (AMP) “Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down,shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.”
Have you ever needed to pack one more item in your full suitcase? There is already a good measure in that bag, but you use all your weight to press the contents down, and then with the contents pressed down (usually by our posterior deposited on said luggage) we pull that zipper working to close the running over contents beneath us into the bag.
It seems that when I came to think of abundance back then my heart was moved to the thoughts of material possessions. Tangible things I can possess and that can, by extension, possess me if I am not careful. So in this vein of thought, what on earth does it mean to have a “full, brimming over, cup?”
More than a decade ago that question bounced off the walls of my mind and reverberated in my heart as I combed the pages of Scripture looking for an answer. I needed to understand this one thing more than I had ever wanted to understand anything in my entire life. My appetite for God’s wisdom and revelation veracious, insatiable… “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)
That day as I leafed my way through those tissue thin pages of my parallel study Bible the words leapt off the page and into my heart. Time and again I would read and record my notes in a spiral notebook. Then I would let my fingers dance through until I found the next reference point. After a while I pulled out my Strong’s dictionary and read the definitions for overflow and abundance found there. In the Greek and the Hebrew, one word stood out to me from the entirety of the definition. “SUPER-ABUNDANCE.”
I can still sense my wonder at that moment. The question mark swirling up in my heart and mind. “Lord, I don’t think I have a file for that.”
You see, again, my understanding of abundance had been so limited by my experiences that I would need God to redefine its meaning for me. Here is how Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines “abundance:” an ample quantity; affluence, wealth; relative degree of plentifulness. My simple definition – MORE STUFF.
UGH! I’m pretty sure God had not drawn me to this moment to set my heart on more stuff… I, after all, am your classic clutter-bug. Stuff is in no short supply in my humble abode. The last thing I needed – More Stuff.
Here is how Strong’s defines “overflow” from Psalm 23:5:
Hebrew Word: רְוָיָה Transliteration: rewāyâ
1) runs over, 2) wealth
Do you see it? Running over, is overflow, right? This idea of more than enough still resonating in my heart.
That Hebrew word literally means to saturate. When something is saturated it is completely immersed, swallowed up in or running over with whatever has been poured out upon it.
This makes me think of last week when we had low water pressure. The sudden disruption of water pressure during my new High Efficiency Maytag’s wash cycle jacked with its equilibrium. The saturated clothes were heavy and sopping wet with water – the sensors in the machine would try to spin the tub but all it would do is beep and then the lock light would blink an alarm before turning itself off. It took me nearly an hour to recover the use of the washing machine and I had to unload the clothing in all its wet glory and put a few things in at a time – spin and drain – repeat until they could all be washed again. Saturated.
Back to that day ten years ago, next I hopped myself over to John 10:10 and looked up the Greek word used for “abundantly.”
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10 NKJV
Jesus came to give us life more abundantly and in that moment I had no idea how God defined abundance. I flipped through the pages of the Strong’s dictionary and there it sat beckoning me into a new understanding of what abiding and relationship with Jesus looks like.
Greek Word: περισσός Transliteration: perissos
from (peri) (in the sense of beyond); superabundant (in quantity) or superior (in quality); by implication excessive; preeminence :- exceeding abundantly above, more abundantly, advantage, exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous..
Read it again… In the sense of beyond, superabundant in quantity and superior in quality, implied is the thought of excess and preeminence, exceeding abundantly above, more abundantly, advantage, exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous. Are you getting the idea that this abundant life thing is about more than just more stuff?
Then we happened to land on the same track because I had lightbulb moment revelations ringing like the Whammy Machine on the Game Show Network.
You see life more abundantly is about more than stuff because it is all about the MORE THAN ENOUGH that is our God. The More Than of God as in Ephesians 3:20 (AMP):
“Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—” (Emphasis Added)
And so as I sat there that hot August afternoon drinking in the water of His Word my heart quaked within me. I no longer wanted to have an intellectual definition of the meaning of overflow and abundance. I wanted to know – the way God knew Adam and Eve and Adam and Eve knew God – KNOW how to live in the more of God.
My simple prayer, the cry of my heart, echoed in the halls of our turn of the century country home. “God, you are going to have define this for me because I have notframe of reference for what SuperAbundance might be, and I’m pretty sure you are not talking about more stuff.”
And just like that the gentle whisper of God blew through my heart.
It is living in the place where everything I (GOD) provide for you is enough.
A few months ago a number of my friends from work went to India on a Mission Trip. I almost snicker at God’s sense of humor. You see back when I had that SuperAbundant revelation in my early years of ministry and walking out my life with Him I would hear about the call to the mission fields and think, “Okay God. You can call me, just don’t call me to India.”
Yep. I really thought that selfishly about the call of God. Because, after all, it is all about me – or at least it was back then.
Still, my friends went to India and God rocked their lives and wrecked their hearts as He revealed Himself to them through the people of India they went to serve.
One of my friends, Jan, took these beautiful photographs featured in this post of the boats and bicycles. As I filtered the images on her Facebook profile I became captivated as I considered that these people often live on less than I make in a few months most of the year. They have little possession, their fellow countrymen seek their life as they walk out their Christian faith, and they are the outcast. Yet one by one those who served in India returned with the same thing rolling off their tongues. The thing that stuck to them as they returned home was the way these people who had so very little by our western culture standards had everything they needed because they had Jesus. They had JOY and PEACE. They knew LOVE and they LOVED so freely. They live truly the life more abundantly.
In the ten years since embarking on this journey of life more abundantly I’ve learned to walk each day with God in a prayerful way that never ceases. Every conversation, every moment I’m continuously aware of His presence and I know the moment I slip out of it.
I have learned to have Him as my friend and my companion as well as my God. He is familiar, yet Holy, gentle and ever so strong. He is righteous and blameless and I am woefully undone every time He meets me in the minor details of my everyday life.
I find myself deeply satisfied. Deeply nourished in this life of mine. Though I may lack the finer things of the American Dream. My bank account looms near zero most days of the week, but my cup runneth over and my life is very full. Rich in love, grace and people who teach me and reveal to me the glory of God in big and little ways, moment-by-moment and day-by-day.
As we approached Easter in the Passion Week God began to speak to my heart as I often find He does when I reflect on His goodness and His grace. When I lean near to Him and listen for His heartbeat… I posted the following which I would like to leave you with as I conclude this post about Abundance.
When Adam & Eve were created in the Garden there was an order and rhythm to life that found its source in their relationship with God and by extension one another.”
After the fall, that relationship with God was broken. Sin, human knowledge of good & evil and God’s adversary, the devil, became the source of order and the rhythm of life. Chaos, evil and difficulty resulting from sin’s curse ensued.
When Jesus came on the scene He reconciled mankind to God, but mankind must choose to allow God and relationship with Him to become the source of order and rhythm to life. You see Jesus fulfilled the old covenant and instituted a new covenant that is built not upon the rule of law but the order that comes from grace. The life that is born in love and the Kingdom that will never end.
Salvation is more than a get out of Hell free card. It is an invitation to be fully loved and to live that love in relationship with God and other people. To live above the law – not in opposition to it – but beyond the regulation of rule into an obedience of the heart born of relationship & gratitude.
Jesus’ own life beckons us as a calling not to be given over to the whims and passions of the human heart, but to be driven by the passions and desires of God’s heart, to live dreams beyond our imagination and attain a fullness of life on earth as it is now in Heaven. Not a here to there reality but a here from there supernatural life that is life more abundantly.
Unless otherwise noted, all written, photographic and artistic work is (c) Michelle Bentham 2015, all rights reserved.