Day 21: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
This verse first came to life for me during a Bible study with the young women’s group at my church a few years back. We were studying the book of John and I knew I had heard this verse before in the New King James Version: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” But for some reason the phrase from the NIV, “have [life] to the full,” really stood out to me this time.
At that point in my life, I was going through a time of searching and asking what it was God had in store for my life. As I shared at the end of a previous post, God had been laying the word “wholehearted” on my heart during this time. And I think the two ideas go together; that if I follow God with my whole heart then He will show me how to truly live my life to the full.
I had also just read a book by Richard Swenson called Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. In it somewhere it talked about how God is a generous God who wants to give us the desires of our hearts and doesn’t simply limit us to our needs. This quote wasn’t endorsing “prosperity gospel” at all but was more in line with John 10:10 about God truly desiring us to have a rich, full life in Him.
All these concepts were just beginning to percolate in my head at that time but, now that I have been able to think about them awhile, I feel this verse has only taken on greater meaning for me. For example, I have seen that when I let down my guard “the thief” does steal my joy and peace but that when I stick close to Jesus, my entire perspective changes and I begin to see the many blessings that my “generous God” provides. Ann Voskamp wrote about this idea in her book,”One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.” In it she talks about writing down everyday things she is grateful for and thus learning to live a life of gratitude before God.
But it is the last part of John 10:10 that has truly become an important life verse to me, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Just to know that God doesn’t mean for me to live a dull, boring everyday existence or, on the flip side, a difficult, trouble-filled life just scrambling to get by. No, His desire for my life is that it is rich and satisfying and fulfilling! I can’t tell you how encouraging and transforming it was to me once I actually figured out this truth for my own life.
So, what is my part to play in all this? Another favorite passage from John says it this way: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener … Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1,4) To me, these verses tell all about how one learns to truly “have life to the full.” For I believe that part of this “fruit” discussed here is having that rich and satisfying life God talks of in John 10:10. And who doesn’t want that?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)