Life Abundant

~ written several weeks ago at the close of a wonderfully soul-stirring day ~

Today was one of those days that used to fuel me.

I went shopping with my Mom at the most venerable shopping center in Tulsa, a beautiful and aged outdoor plaza with all of my favorite stores gathered in one place – Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Saks 5th Avenue, Williams Sonoma, to name a few – not to mention my favorite little eatery in the state, Queenie’s Plus Cafe.

I had a delicious burger for lunch that somehow fed not only my stomach but my soul. The cows they use are REAL or something and that beef just ministers to me all the way to my stomach, as does the Jack cheese and the special sauce and the fancy non-iceberg lettuce and the juicy tomatoes that surely must have been plucked yesterday from an organic farm in America’s heartland. “Holy cow” is an understatement.

I tried on every article of clothing that tickled my fancy at Anthropologie.

I exchanged something I got for Christmas for something I really, really wanted and skipped out of the store like Mary Tyler Moore.

I played toys at Pottery Barn Kids.

I had afternoon coffee and a slice of chocolate cream pie that was other-wordly and surely must have been baked in heaven’s oven.

I rummaged through an antique/junk store to my heart’s content and made a mental wishlist of the 52 treasures I could find a place for in my home.

I enjoyed…nay, relished…the company of my Mom and “my girls” (I squeal a little everytime I say that), laughing at Miss Sunday’s bossing and opining, marveling at Betsie’s beauty and sweetness, and discussing life with the woman who means more to me than any other on the planet.

It was simply lovely, in every possible way.

And then I came home to the normal hustle and bustle and preschoolish chaos of my life and as the day wound down to a close, my husband and children congregated on the couch to read the next chapter of “Dangerous Journey“, the beautifully illustrated children’s version of “Pilgrim’s Progress”….

…a Celtic instrumental rendition of “Be Thou My Vision” and then “Nearer My God to Thee” was playing in the background, and I sucked in a breath at the beauty and simplicity of the moment as I spiraled into that realm where my thoughts and convictions and imagination resides.

My worlds have collided this past year. The world that I used to be immersed in, where I went to church on Sunday and Wednesday and then spent money and climbed the religious and social and financial and educational ladder on Monday thru Saturday could no longer keep pace with the Spirit’s work in my life. For a couple of years now, He has consistently been calling me out and introducing me to a worldview that is, crazy enough, actually incahoots with the words I have been proclaiming since I “walked the aisle” at the age of 7 and, after all these years of drifting through the American version of Christianity, He has demanded a change in me. And true to His gracious nature, He has since been performing that change in me, in spite of my sinful tendencies to ignore Him and store up for myself treasures on this earth. The result, as I mentioned earlier, is that those things that used to fuel me are now seen in a very different light.

My Mom and I discussed this very thing today as we mozied down the sidewalks of Utica Square and marveled over the fact that we just no longer spend like we used to, mindlessly buying every sale item that fits us and every book, movie and magazine that grabs our attention and all the irresistable kitchen goods that catch our eye at Williams Sonoma. In fact, we actually avoided that very store today so we wouldn’t even be tempted to buy anything, a practice we would have found laughable in the not so distant past…

And the plumb craziest thing about it is that I’m loads happier now than I was then — my Mom is, too. The freedom I am finding leaves me dumbfounded and gives me the power to enjoy life at its simplest. I couldn’t be happier if I tried.

And as my children flank their Papa and hear about Christian’s pilgrimage to the Celestial City, I have a sense that our journey is only just beginning…

the prospect both thrills and terrifies me.

Will I continue to give up and let go of the things of the world to follow hard after God?

Could I happily downsize to a smaller and older house to accomplish more for the Kingdom?

Can I give up more of my time and energy to allow more children into our home and commit to teach and nurture them for life?

When I say I ‘love’ my church body and call them my ‘family’, am I really willing to shoulder their burdens and share in their financial struggles and care for them in their old age?

Am I really willing to consistently live like a pilgrim in the smack-dab middle of Vanity Fair?

…to be honest, I don’t know…

I seem to have a chronic case of the “Lord I believe; help me in my unbelief!” mentality.

But I am begging for grace to make it through each day in a way that denies my own plans and desires and glorifies God in a Biblical and convincing way. I want to be faithful more than ever…

but I am ever sinful and afraid that He will ask too much of me.

What a faithless and sorry excuse for a sojourner.

And yet I know without a doubt that here on the narrow and difficult road – that avoids Williams Sonoma most of the time but not all of the time (even sojourners have gotta cook!) – there is life and life abundant to be found.

I’m just praying that I still believe that tomorrow.

And the next day…

and the next day…

and the next day…

I hope you believe it, too.