Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: The Abundant Life from Jesus Christ

Living Abundantly
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."” – Genesis 2:18 (ESV)

A couple of years ago, my husband and I made the decision to downsize our family home. Our eldest child was graduating high school with plans to head off to University while our youngest was only two years behind. The changes in our lives initiated conversations of future retirement and plans beyond raising babies. Our large home felt like a drain on our time and resources; a hindrance to our future. So, we moved.

The new house was full of character and charm with sufficient with room for our kids to come home. The yard, however, was the thing that sold me. It had been smartly divided into what we believed to be manageable sized zones. Of personal interest to me was the garden.

I’d always dreamed of gardening, but the previous home had been located on a heavily wooded hillside alive with hungry wildlife. My extreme reaction to poison oak made it a place of frustration rather than gardening success. This new home came fully fenced, sun kissed and pre-planted.

The seasons changed and eventually the growing season hit full force. I was in the garden almost daily, admiring the flowers and the buds that were sprouting everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere! Each bed, it turned out, was absolutely loaded with bulbs that were healthily multiplying and spreading. And while the flowering bulbs were of slight concern, the raspberry bushes were revealing a workload.

As I begun the berry harvest, a panic grew inside me. I could see the magnitude of what was coming and I knew I hadn't the time or ability to pick all that would come. I became sick with feelings of inadequacy and failure. Familiar feelings. Did we not just leave a property that took too much?

Living in abundant blessing did not look or feel like what I had assumed it would. I’d thought it could be divided into zones and it would manage itself. I’d assumed that fruitful gardening was like bank accounts with their tidy rows of credits and debits. This extravagant harvest was not controllable, not manageable…at least not by me.

In the midst of this dark thinking, light poured onto a patch that had been shaded. Suddenly, these words flooded my mind: That which God was providing was far more than I had hoped or dreamed…Wait, what? That was scriptural! Next, another verse entered my mind…His plans are to prosper and not harm me (Jeremiah 29:11)! The Word covered my fear in love. Here I was with far more than I could handle and that was God’s intent. It was good, not harming, to have abundance!

God created Eden fruitful, supplying sustenance to all. He gave Adam a management position in gardening. God shows us in Genesis 2:18 that solidarity is not good, help is. Living abundantly is a team sport.

What makes a profusion of juicy sweets a blessing? Sharing. Sharing both the blessing and the workload. The thought of letting others come and pick was a relief to the burden of the chore. I could have my fill and not be overwhelmed. Others could have their fill and be equally blessed!

A paradigm shift occurred that day. What else was weighing me down because I thought I needed to do it all myself? Where else were overwhelming feelings paralyzing me? What made me feel like a failure? What else could follow this pattern of abundance?

As the pile of berries grew in my bucket, so too did a list of tasks I knew I needed help with. Calling on others for help was a blessing to them and not my failure. Giving work to others brought them purpose and value and a share in the abundant life.

Looking back on the move, I am grateful. I'm thoroughly enjoying all that gardening has been teaching me. If I had known before that excess is a gift, I suppose I would have been contented to stay on the larger property. This lesson, however, came with the garden.

Thank you, Lord, for the abundance You have shared!

Author Bio:

Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior.

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

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