Therefore Jesus said again,, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal kill and destroy; I have come that they have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
In this verse from John 10:10 the following sentence has been quoted many times. “I have come to that they have life, and have it to the full.” There are translations that word this sentence as to having abundant life. I have heard comedians such as Mark Lowry use this sentence in his routines about having abundant life. There are so many interpretations and thoughts regarding what Jesus meant in having abundant life.
Abundant life. As the year 2017 nears to a close, I honestly say my husband, Jim and I have experienced abundant life. It is because of the abundant life I have experienced this year that I have gained more understanding of Jesus’ teaching in this passage. This is definitely one year for the books.
Rewind December, 2016
Jacqueline Ward Daniel Hill
November 2, 1943-December 27, 2016
Before 2016 ended I found myself sitting in a hospital room with the rest of my family absorbing all the time we could with my mom. We said good-bye to my mom on December 27th. She had fought a long and hard battle with cancer. On New Year’s Eve afternoon, the remainder of the family that had been at Mom and Dad’s departed. Thus, leaving my dad and I alone in a very quiet house. It was as though time stood still and I wondered to myself how I would take the next step and how would time move on without my mom by my dad’s side.
Memorial Day 2017
The calendar did flip over to 2017 and little by little I learned to take new steps and learn a new normal without having my mom around. Memorial Day approached and as tradition has it for Jim and me we would attend the Gaither Family Fest in Gatlinburg for the weekend. This would be a weekend of Jim’s family and friends from Louisville and my family would meet up for a time of music, spiritual renewal and fellowship. It was a wonderful weekend and a time for healing for my family.
When Jim and I attend these weekends we usually prolong our stay in Gatlinburg for another day or so just to avoid the holiday traffic. Yet, Jim’s schedule would not allow for us to prolong our trip this year. Thus, we departed for home Memorial Day morning along with the many other travelers.
Jim and I usually take back roads from Gatlinburg to the interstate that would lead us to home in Kentucky. However, as we approached the interstate there was no movement. It was one big parking lot. At this moment, Jim decided this year we would try an alternate route. In the words of a James Taylor song, “Home by Another Way”, we would go home another way.
There was a parkway that Jim and I needed to watch exit signs to take on this new route home. However, we did not realize that the name of the parkway had changed and somehow or the other we missed the exit. Jim pulled over and googled how to resolve this mistake without us backtracking and losing time.
We ended up on a two lane road that took us through some beautiful Kentucky territory that really had Jim and me captivated. We passed a lake with a beautiful camping area and were curious as to the name of the lake. I began to google our location to find out specifics of the area. Just as I looked down at my phone Jim shouts to me, “hold on!”. Coming straight at us is a camper that had become disengaged from the truck that was pulling it. The camper was in our lane. From that moment all I remember is seeing a grove of trees that our car was heading for and nothing but white rushing passed the driver’s side.
The car finally came to a stop and I looked over to the driver’s side anticipating seeing that half of the car gone as well as Jim. Thankfully, the car was in tact and Jim still had a tight grip on the steering wheel. He looked over at me and said, “we are blessed because we were almost killed.” As he spoke those words, I looked in my side mirror and saw the camper go over the car that was behind us. My reply to Jim was “and we have just witnessed an accident and I don’t know if there are going to be survivors.” Once again, Jim looked over at me and said, “stay here because you know what I have to do.”
Jim along with other motorist who had witnessed the accident sprang into action. After busting the back window out Jim and other volunteers began checking the victims. There were two small children with their grandparents. The grandmother and three-year-old were responsive and did not seem to have many injuries but the grandfather/driver and the baby behind him were not responsive. Jim felt for a pulse on the driver and he said it was very faint for only a minute and then the driver was gone. Jim said all he could do was pray over the victim and for the family.
Once the status of the driver was established they began pulling the other victims out of the car. As Jim lifted the baby out and handed to a nurse who had witnessed the accident, he knew the baby was most likely brain-dead. The baby was life flighted to a Children’s Hospital and passed away a few days later. The grandmother and three-year-old were taken to the local hospital and were treated and released.
As you can imagine this was a horrible event for us. One of the most heartbreaking moments of the ordeal was watching the emergency personnel telling the lady that her husband did not survive the crash. I can still hear her screams in my head as I go back to that day. The other heartbreaking moment for Jim and me was when learned that they were not believers. Their family had tried to witness to them about Christ. I believe that afternoon and evening Jim and I prayed more from the gut than we ever prayed in our lives as individuals and as a couple.
Mr. Snapping Turtle
Mid-summer Jim and I arrived back into our neighborhood after Jim had worked a weekend shift at the hospital. As we came around the curve approaching our home, there was this huge turtle in the middle of the road. I told Jim we needed to move Mr. Turtle so that he would not get hurt or worse crushed by another car.
Again, Jim to the rescue. At first we thought it was just a regular old turtle but soon learned by seeing his tail that he was snapping turtle. Jim tried to think of how to approach this turtle to get him moved out of the street. He thought maybe he could slowly approach the turtle from behind but soon learned that was not an option.
Jim walked up to the house to get a shovel as I stood guard by the turtle so that no one would hit him or a child dare try to approach him. Jim was able to scoop Mr. Turtle up with his shovel and place him in a nearby ravine where the turtle would be safe and people would be safe from the turtle.
Four Day Weekend Turns to Thirteen Day Stay
This past October we celebrated our granddaughter’s first birthday. Campbell was so precious in her birthday dress. We all cheered her on as she attempted to stand up by herself and as she tried to figure out what to do with her birthday smash cake. It was a fun celebration.
Monday arrived and it was time to depart from my Dad’s home and head for Kentucky. As part of our routine, Jim and I always stop at the QucikTrip just before getting on the interstate. We made our stop. I got my sweet tea. As Jim was paying for the gas, my phone rings. It is my dad.
My dad is calling to ask about where we were as far as location on our trip. I found this odd since we had left him only forty minutes earlier. He began to explain that he was having some chest pain and was not feeling very well. The blessing was he was on Chaplain duty at the hospital and one of the nurses he knew was wheeling him over to the emergency room. Dad began to tell me not to worry if I could not turn around and come back. Jim gets in the car and I give him the details and instead of turning right to get on the interstate we take a left and head back into to town. Our four-day weekend turned into a thirteen day stay.
Dad ended up having open-heart surgery. It was so hard to for me to see him go through this without my mom by his side. Mom was always the one who could calm any of us down in a tense situation. She always knew the right words and knew just what to do at any moment. Yet, she was not there. My brother was on a trip with his family. Thus, it was up to me with Jim by my side walking through this procedure with my dad.
Again, a stressful moment but as we walked through this journey I could hear the words of my mom, “we will get through this.” And, we did get through it and we were not alone. God blessed us with wonderful doctors, hospital staff but most importantly loving/praying friends that over the years have become like family to us. It was all of these people along side God doing His work that we got through Dad’s surgery.
I have mentioned a few life events that have occurred to the Hawkins’ this year. In the midst of these events taking place and coping, every day life that we all deal with took place as well. Needless to say, life happened in its abundant form for us this year.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it full.” What have I learned from this verse in John 10:10? I have a saying, “God didn’t promise us perfect days but He promises us A perfect day.” Each one of these experiences that Jim and I went through this year the thief (Satan) could have had a field day if we had let him. Yet, as a couple and as individuals we chose to keep our eyes on the cross.
In each situation, we sought God’s blessings. As hard as it was losing Mom, we know she is in a better place and we have the hope that we will see her again because we believe in Jesus Christ. The blessing from the Memorial Day wreck was seeing a group of strangers pull together to help a family in crisis. We had the opportunity to pray with the family at the hospital and we continue to pray for the survivors each day and that they will become a believer.
Is there a blessing with the snapping turtle? Yes. The blessing was we found the turtle before a child found it and had their finger bitten off. It also gave us something to laugh about after going through some stressful days. Regarding my dad’s surgery, we experienced God’s love, grace and felt the prayers of praying friends and family.
Being given life abundantly doesn’t mean everything goes our way, we have everything we want, nor we are free from trials. Life abundantly through Christ means experiencing His power and seeing His hand at work not only in the trials but in the everyday living of life. It means taking God by the hand and trusting Him as we walk this journey on planet earth. Through our trusting God, having Christ in our hearts, and involved in all we do we experience Him in abundance and we live the abundant life He has given us.
Yes, this has been a year for the books for the Hawkins. We are ready to put the year behind us. Yet, before we move forward to 2018, we will stop and count our blessings even from the storms we encountered this year. We will give thanks to God for bringing us this far and will take Him by the hand and follow His leading in 2018.
Today, I challenge you to stop and reflect on your 2017. Seek the blessings that were in the midst of the trials you may have experienced this year. Take God by the hand and tell Him that you trust Him and will follow His leading in 2018.
If you have not asked Christ to come into your life, right now at this moment I invite you to accept Him into your life. All you have to do is say, “here I am, Lord.” “I give you my heart and I want you to come into my heart.” Pray the prayer below and then begin to live a life of abundance that will ultimately be filled with many blessings.
Have a blessed Christmas Season and a blessed 2018!