Revue: More than Abundant

“More Than Abundant,” © 2017 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

A bitter cold currently sweeps through Northern Virginia.

Nevertheless, during today’s early morning hours, my Labradoodle needed his routine break.  Bundled like the Michelin Man, I bravely and cautiously stepped out onto the icy sidewalk.

I shivered as a bitter wind whistled, offering an overture for the day to come.  In that moment, I recalled one of the profoundest children’s books that I have ever read, George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind.

In MacDonald’s classic, allegorical tale, a young boy named Diamond befriends the awe-inspiring North Wind.

I recalled one of the profoundest children’s books that I have ever read, George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind.

 

Because of his great love for North Wind, Diamond longs to visit the country at her back, a paradise to which she has often alluded.

“I want to go into the country at your back,” Diamond says.

North Wind replies, “Then you must go through me.”

At first Diamond is puzzled. But North Wind explains that he must walk through her as though she were an open door.

“But that will hurt you, ” Diamond objects.

“Not in the least,” North Wind explains. “But it will hurt you…”

Yes, MacDonald captured the essence of our lives: through North Wind we must all pass.

And the journey to Abba’s country at her back brings pain, heartbreak, fear and disappointment while simultaneously producing beauty, glimmers of grace, courage and hope.

The contrast, in fact, between sunny dreams and life’s all-too-often cold reality seems especially exacerbated by Christmas.  Despite the season’s “tidings of comfort and joy,” many must endure strong headwinds.

At times such as these, we heartily agree with Emily Dickinson: “To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”

Through North Wind we must all pass.

I think, perhaps,  one Samaritan woman may have felt the same. Given her history, it is safe to say that her life hadn’t turned out the way she hoped.

Like many little girls, her childhood probably filled with fairy tales. Had Disney been around to capture her imagination, she certainly would have sung “Someday, My Prince Will Come…”

Reading Scripture’s account, it seems she diligently sought her prince. But to no avail.

Scripture actually tells us that she had been married five times.  That’s right. North Wind swirled through every corner and crevice of her life.

And while she had demonstrated a measure of resilience, I think she likely wished to avoid future pain.

I wonder if this might have influenced her most recent relationship. She had not married the man with whom she lived.  And we do know that her live-in certainly was no Mr. Darcy.

How?

Well, she made the long walk down that path to the well at least once a day, (John 4:15). No servant gathered water for her. No staff prepared meals.

She called Samaria, not Downtown Abbey, home.

In addition, she likely received little emotional support. After all,  many of the other women in the village probably avoided her. Gossip swirled around her.

For this reason, I believe that gusts of disappointment and loneliness dogged her steps  to the well.

Yet,  North Wind ultimately led her to the One who offers grace, peace and rest.

The omniscient Shepherd waited for her at the well.  With deep compassion and loving-kindness, the Prince of Peace began conversation with a simple request for a drink of water.

Quite honestly, I think she would have resisted any offers to fix her broken-ness.  She had fought her way back more than once and likely believed she could depend upon no one but herself.

Yeah, when one is beaten down, trust becomes difficult.  But unlike any other, Jesus understands our hearts. He sympathizes with our weaknesses; He intercedes on our behalf.

North Wind ultimately led her to the One who offers grace, peace and rest.

It shouldn’t surprise, then, that Jesus did not offer an indifferent evaluation or pious advice.

Instead, He asked her for something.

That’s right. Grace offered her respect. Love gave her dignity.

It was an out-of-the box approach. I suppose it caught her off guard. And Jesus’ obviously Jewish heritage made His conversation opener all the more surprising. She said as much, (John 4:9).

 

Yet, with grace, Jesus gently broke down her “tough gal” defenses.  He didn’t give her a list of necessary life changes. Nor did He bring up her live-in relationship.

Rather, He focused on her need, and essentially said, “Let’s walk together.”

And then, He offered her the hope that only He can give. Living Water.

Consumed by life’s headwinds, she initially misunderstood Him…

“Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw,” (John 4:15)

Jesus patiently responded to her confusion with another request: “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

When she admitted that she was unmarried, Christ gently and directly addressed her heartache. He described her failed relationships in factual detail, but He did not editorialize as her neighbors were wont to do.

Unlike any other, Jesus understands our hearts. He sympathizes with our weaknesses; He intercedes on our behalf.

Yes, only Messiah could know her as He did. And only Messiah could know her as He did and yet, simultaneously give her such love and grace.

Although her understanding began to grow,  she still had questions. She asked Christ to explain a seemingly off-topic concern.

Since she was a Samaritan, she wondered how she should worship God. The  Jerusalem pilgrimage was filled with peril.

I love the way Jesus patiently listened. Then, He graciously turns her thoughts back to living water, the “well springing up to eternal life.” Jesus assured her that “God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Grace gives what is essential for the soul–living water. Jesus gives not stagnant but rather abundant life through His Spirit, the one called “the Comforter.”

Christ’s gift of grace, the Holy Spirit, can fill every empty soul space.

In Christ, then, we drink streams of living water even in the barren wilderness where the Arctic wind blows (Matthew 11:28).

The woman’s life, of course, did not transform overnight. The village women probably still ostracized her. After all, she returned to the city and told the men about Jesus.

Undoubtedly, she faced ongoing obstacles.

In His grace, our Savior provides what is essential for the soul–Living Water.

Even so, living water filled her heart. She placed her confidence in Christ, (John 14:6).

And so it is. Our gentle, gracious Savior shepherds us through stormy wind.  He walks with us through valleys; He comforts and restores our souls, (Psalm 23).

Whoever gains access to Christ’s Living Water need not thirst again.

When North Wind blows, you and I are invited to lean into our heavenly Father’s arms and find comfort like no other.

This, then, is incredible grace: we ask for a bucket of water and Abba grants a never-ending River of Life.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls,” ~Matthew 11:28-29

69 thoughts on “Revue: More than Abundant

  1. WOW! My goodness this is absolutely wonderful and refreshing. “In His grace, our Savior provides what is essential for the soul–Living Water.” It’s something special about that RiverLife, I tell ya. “Whoever gains access to Christ’s Living Water need not thirst again!” A perpetual well-spring. Lynn, this is an absolutely amazing work that the Lord placed in your heart to share with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anthony, you have such an amazing gift! How blessed is everyone who knows you! Your kindness and godly encouragement buoys every life that you touch! I am so blessed to have met you here in the blogosphere. Your friendship is truly a gift that I prize. God bless you big time!

      Liked by 1 person

      • God, the Great Architect and Orchestrator of our soul, knows just how to bring us all together for His glory. I love the way that He seamlessly weaves His words into the fabric of our hearts, then He gives us the articulative prowess to convey His words whether by paint and/or by pen, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow.

        God we thank You and pray that we continue to avail ourselves to You!

        Right back at ya Sister!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – New Life in Christ Jesus

  3. Hi Lynn! I love the way you structured this post, it has a poetic quality to it, and you tell the story in a captivating way. Also, the painting of the waterfall is beautiful, but that (almost) goes without saying as you’re such an amazing artist 🙂

    Thank you for the time and effort you clearly put into this post – will look forward to the next one! Keep warm in the cold weather!

    Peace and blessings, Steven

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is my testimony: I was born in Romania where the winters are always heavy. I married my husband, Richmond Leigh and we came to Nigeria in 1980, to settle. We had three children. Both of us we practiced medicine here. When we came to Nigeria I could not speak English. At the beginning I struggled. The culture, the weather, the food, the people… everything was different than what I knew about life back home. As a wife, mother and doctor, I struggled to remain happy facing opposition, misunderstanding and anxieties of life. There are no winters in Nigeria. For many years I missed the winter especially at Christmas. It is like I left my child(hood) far away, in another land. I had to let go of my memories which only hunted me… I had to forget the past so that I can receive new blessings…

    Light shone into my darkness when in 1986 I became saved! Yes, I gave my life to Christ in our house at that time, in a building at Okoro street Warri, in Nigeria. My life changed again! Little by little, I started developing new feelings, learned new songs and creating new memories. For a long time I felt like a stranger in my own body. It took many years for the war in my heart to end and for peace to reign.

    This morning, reading your letter, I smile… I am grateful to God for being with me all these years in a country I could not have chosen by myself. I am grateful to God for helping me to chose a Savior I could not have chosen by myself. I thank God for helping me to more than adjust, more than survive here in Africa. I found eternal life, my Savior and my destiny here. Nigeria is not what you call ‘a cute’ country. But the Holy Spirit loves Nigeria and pours the rivers of water on this thirsty land. It is my privilege to be a pastor together with my husband, here in Warri- Effurun, Nigeria. It is my honor to represent the Satisfier of men’s souls, the Joy of all generations and the Hope of all nations to the people here. I speak His Word, I share His joy and I pray that they are filled with the Holy Spirit! I do not trust myself to impart in your hearts a passion for the Holy Spirit. But I trust that God will touch you and fill you with Himself. In Jesus name I pray! There is no greater prayer than this!

    From Nigeria to the world I say: Jesus is Lord! Merry Christmas! God bless you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • What an amazing testimony Silvia! As I read this the Lord led me to Genesis 12:1, when the Lord said to Abram, “get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, and go to a land I will show you.” The scripture doesn’t tell of all their struggles and changes, but I’m sure there were some, but they persevered.

      Sometimes God has to remove us from everything that’s familiar, so He can get our attention and deal with us, and even save us. I didn’t have to go to another country, but I did have to leave my home town (familiar place), family (familiar people), and my father’s house (familiar provision), to a place that he showed me. In this place, like you, I learned Who Jesus was and He became my Savior.

      I’m rejoicing for you and your husband because God used this transition to birth ministry in you guys, and planted you all in a place where you’re needed. Praying for you all! God Bless and thanks Lord, for using Lynn to make kingdom connections around the world.

      Like

      • Dear Brother from Riverlifepsalms1, Thank you for your encouraging words. You are right. If we are too comfortable in this world, it is impossible to birth life in others. I had learned over the years to see life thru the eyes of my Lord Jesus Christ. My eyes deceive me. But His vision in me gives me strength to stand and to move, when it is time to move. One secret that I have learned is to die to complaining about the things around me. There are enough reasons to complain. But it drains my peace and my joy. When things are hard, when I do not understand what is happening around me, I chose to wait for the Holy Spirit to speak. He alone knows everything. When He talks, ever pain becomes a painting and every fear becomes a poem. May God bless you and your family. It is well!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. a beautiful tale Lynn–found in the walking of a dog on a cold December day….
    I owe you an email—I haven’t forgotten, just haven’t been able to carve out enough time…I will however soon!
    I’ve never read that book—it does sound lovely….
    stay warm and continue musing as you walk the dog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • If anyone would appreciate George MacDonald’s work, you would, dear Julie!! And no worries about emailing. I completely understand. I’ll be delighted whenever I hear from you! And I know that this is the busiest time of year for retailers. Just praying for strength for you and your family! Love and huge hugs!

      Like

  6. Hi Lynn. I have never read that book, but it certainly sounds like a great analogy to our lives. I always love how Jesus handled the Samaritan woman. He is so loving and compassionate. I love the painting of the waterfall, too. And what an appropriate title – “More Than Abundant.” God’s grace to us is more than abundant! Thank you for all this encouragement. I was especially drawn to this line – “Our gentle, gracious Savior shepherds us through stormy wind. He walks with us through valleys; He comforts and restores our souls.” We are in such good Hands, aren’t we? Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, yes! God’s hands are truly good! And I am so with you. Jesus was so kind, tender and gracious to the Samaritan woman. It’s so nice to catch a glimpse of His interactions with people here on earth as it gives me such insight into His care for you and me. And I’m grateful beyond words. Thank you for your beautiful comment! It spoke straight to my heart, dear Trudy! ❤ and huge hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lynn, this post moved me into silence. I haven’t been able to put into words how deeply it touched me but it clearly moved me out of a place that I’d been stuck. You are such a blessing to me. I can never thank you enough for your ability to turn our friends in the Bible into real living souls for us to learn and grow from and forgive ourselves so we can allow God’s healing Word to do its work within us. My dear friend, thank you…Love you, Deb

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    • Oh, dearest Deb… I preach to myself most of the time 😉 But I’m so thankful if a post touches your heart as well! I am grateful for God’s grace in my life and simply wish to pass that on to others. But it is even more an honor to find that something that God has revealed to me has encouraged a dear friend and kindred spirit like you! Love you much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is so beautiful, Lynn!! I had never heard the story of the boy and wind, but I love its message and symbolism, as you beautifully painted wisdom and understanding through connection of scripture. To be reminded we can worship God in spirit and truth I felt immediately focused on worshipping Him anywhere and not waiting. This really spoke to me 🙂

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  9. I like Dickinson’s quote, “to live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.” I’m glad to hear it’s not just me that feels that way!

    Plus that Jesus not only sympathizes with our weaknesses but then intercedes in our behalf— not just for the woman at the well but for all of us.

    So encouraging.

    Like

  10. I Loved your Painting Lynn, waters flowing free. Jesus is our Living Water and He flows in our Hearts and when we Love, Trust and Obey the Floodgates are opened.

    As I read your Message Lynn it reminded me of another Woman Jesus ministered to as recorded in the Scripture below, she was also in despair and abused and rejected by others.

    John 8:11 She said, No Man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I Condemn thee, go and Sin no more.

    Christian Love and Blessings Lynn,
    Anne (Granny Annie).

    Like

    • Yes! So grateful for the grace that Jesus gave to those lost souls He met while He walked here on earth. But even more grateful for the grace that He gave when He took our place on that cross. Thank you so much for reminding me of all of this! God bless you greatly, dear Anne! Love in Christ always! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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