Written by Sarah Graefe
Maybe it’s because I grew up on a farm, but I love any opportunity to walk down a quiet street or drive down a windy country road.
Recently I found myself on a quiet trail lined with ungroomed bushes and trees. As I began walking, my heart and mind were full with all the concerns and challenges from that week. The path was beautiful, but it took me some time before I really saw the beauty around me. As I walked, I slowly started to notice something subtle yet striking to my heart – the bushes on either side of the path were loaded with bright red berries.
When I noticed the berries, I became aware of something else – the sweet truthful presence of the Holy Spirit. He seemed to be saying to me:
“The path we walk in this life is just like this – hedged in by My grace and provision – an abundance of My love and of everything else you could possibly need. But you can miss it if you only look at the path ahead and the work to be done. So walk with Me and learn the art of selah – of pausing to look for Me all around you. Learn to listen, to see, to receive the abundance I have already set out for you.”
Ever since that walk, I’ve been drawn back again and again to that compelling and convicting word: abundance.
Do I believe that there can be abundance in my life?
How often do I fail to realize all the provision God has placed around me?
How often do I refuse to stop and see Him at work, instead plowing ahead seeking to accomplish every task I’m given in my own strength?
The apostle Paul eventually learned the reality of abundance in a deep way, and it came through the process of a prison cell. In writing to close friends who had continually supported him emotionally and financially, he penned these words from his ungracious platform:
I am convinced that my God will fully satisfy every need you have, for I have seen the abundant riches of glory revealed to me through the Anointed One, Jesus Christ! – Philippians 4:19 (TPT)
It’s crazy to me to think that Paul wrote this from a hard place in order to encourage others. Abundance in Christ was a truth Paul knew deeply because he had dared to walk into trial, struggle and pain with Jesus. In the daily walking, he had realized something. No matter what he faced, Jesus supernaturally provided for his every single need. He had come to grasp the promise Jesus made to every single person who chooses to follow Him:
“I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect – life in its fullness until you overflow!” – John 10:10 (TPT)
I have had the joy and privilege to walk with Jesus for some time now, but I am still not good at this. I can be a control freak and bear every single hard thing that comes my way without stopping to ask Jesus for help. I tend to think I can figure it out on my own. I easily forget that I’m in a lifelong walk with Him, and that when I choose to take matters into my own hands, I choose to walk away from the very abundance He is waiting to give me.
Now, I don’t think Jesus is saying: “Follow Me and everything will be easy; you’ll have all the money and relationships and answers to every hard question in the world!” No, I don’t think that’s what abundance means at all. Because Jesus also promised we would have trouble (John 16:33). He invites us to share in His suffering (1 Peter 4:13). He challenges us to take up our cross, follow Him and set aside our agendas to learn the beat of His heart (Matthew 16:24).
Yes, Jesus can and does provide things like a bonus, an opportunity to love and be loved, and supernatural creative ideas that make peasants into superstars. But I think this abundance He describes is something far richer and deeper than worldly comfort.
I believe Jesus invites us into a different mindset and perspective that only comes through an intimate relationship with Him. A relationship that inspires us to think differently and therefore make better choices.
When we understand at our core that He desires to meet our every need, we can choose to stop, look around us and see differently.
On my walk with the berry bushes, I was reminded that good things surround me even when I’m in a hard season. I’m learning that a conscious decision to worship and express gratitude alters the position of my heart and helps me realize the abundance that’s right in front of me.
So let’s do this together. Instead of seeing the challenges and the hard things in your path right now, look around you and ask:
Who and what am I thankful for today? What good things has God already surrounded me with? Where have I seen God step in and answer problems and cries of my heart in the past?
Make a simple choice to see differently, to thank Him for what He has already done. This makes the next thing a little easier, for this one requires a level of faith to pursue.
So now look at that hard thing: the thing you don’t have a solution for yet – the prayer not answered, the loved one still walking in darkness, the person you’re in conflict with.
Now choose to thank Him for what He WILL do. Choose to see that He is who He says He is: the Good Father who gives everything in abundance, more than you expect and often in unexpected ways. Thank Him out loud for the answer that is coming, for the goodness found in His character, and for the reality of His abundance even when you see only scarcity.
When you choose to set your heart on gratitude and worship to Jesus, abundance appears all around you, no matter what reality you may be facing. And your attitude and words become an expression of that abundance in Him, spilling over to refresh others, just like bushes overflowing with rich, ripe berries.
Sarah Graefe has a blast serving on staff at Allison Park Church as the Assistant Children’s Director at the Hampton Campus. She is a graduate of Northeast Ministry School. She loves traveling for leisure and for missions and enjoys reading, eating, and kayaking in her spare time.