Jesus said, “I am come that you might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). But what does that mean? Well deep down you probably have some sense of what it means. It’s this yearning found at the core of your being to experience life that is meaningful, invigorating and even a bit adventurous.
There are various experiences we have in life that give us a hint of what this is about. Those experiences that jazz us. They are experiences that we might call primal. They are deep and profound. They’re kind of like a foretaste of what Jesus is talking about. They vary depending on how you are wired. An experience that causes me to come to life and gives me a bit of a glimpse of what it means to be fully alive is the opportunity to call in a bull moose during the rut in anticipation of bringing a little meat home for dinner.
Okay it’s the middle of winter and darn cold as I write this. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, lots to do in the great outdoors in February, but giving some thought to the upcoming summer and fall hunting season does warm me up!
So back to calling in that Moose … when you hear that moose respond to your call and grunt back in the distance, when you hear it begin to crash its way through the bush towards you, for me that’s one invigorating heart pounding life-giving experience. Then there’s dead silence. Your heart keeps pounding. You’re straining to listen and see. “What’s going on?” You wonder, “Do I call again?” And then, you hear a twig snap. All of your senses are once again aroused. But is that really the bull? Or is my mind playing games? Dang it, it’s a chipmunk!!
And then out of nowhere this magnificent bull busts through the tree line and you’re totally startled. You fumble and you may or may not be able to make the shot, even though the bull is less than 40 yards away. Dare I publicly admit that I’ve blown it at this point before? How in the world did it get here without me hearing him for the last 20 minutes? And I assure you it does happen. I don’t know how, but it does! What a thrill! Again your heart is pumping and this inexplicable sense of being fully alive pervades your being. And if this encounter results in you bringing home a rack and some meat, it’s an incredibly sweet experience. If not, it’s still an amazingly sweet experience, even if it’s a bit bitter-sweet!
Despite Neil Young’s incredibly ignorant description of our region as being Hiroshima – okay maybe as a pastor I should choose a more gentle word – but I’ll pass on that for now – we know better. You and I both know we live in one incredibly beautiful region full of fast flowing rivers, rugged forests – with among other wild creatures a few moose who do get a bit ornery at times when they discover that what’s at the end of that call, well, it’s not what that bull had come for.
Hey I know a guy who called as I have often done. But in this case he never heard the moose coming, not even a twig snap. Then out of nowhere there’s this monster bull. And when the bull figured out what was going on, well it wasn’t the prettiest of pictures. The bull got to the guy before he could get at the bull. Good news is that he didn’t get too badly hurt, although he did need to bit of hospital care. And yeah that bull keeps getting bigger every time the story is told.
For some it’s the thrill that comes from a death-defying jump on a dirt-bike. For others it’s the championship hockey game. Maybe even the Riders winning the Grey Cup. Or maybe a sunset on a Mexican beach. Or a well manicured garden that we’ve created. The list goes on and on. These are things that just allow us to catch a glimpse of what it means to be fully alive.
Can experiences like this really help us understand what Jesus means by experiencing life to the full? Well they’re a start. What Jesus is offering includes and goes far beyond all this. Think about what truly jazzes you, what causes hour heart to truly sing. The message of Jesus is that he came to give you that, and so much more. Yes he came that you might become fully alive.
This post originally appeared in the January 30th, 2014 edition of Fort McMurray Today.