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The True Meaning of Abundant Life

Skewed Thinking

Attending church schools from kindergarten to graduation provided me plenty of opportunity to hear the story of Jesus. I knew him as a historical figure—not as the Son of God or the Savior of sinners. I saw people—even my own mother, who paid lip service to Christianity but set a bad example for her children—as hypocritical followers of Christ. Teachers at my schools, too, showed favoritism and were often lazy. My classmates were like me—only church-goers.

Hearing the statement by Jesus that He came that people may have life and have it abundantly, I fervently longed for such a life. Who wouldn’t? In my mind, I had a picture of what an abundant life looked like. It included a comfortable life, having loving parents, good friends, and academic excellence.

My life was not anything like this picture! The material comfort I had had at one time was diminished because my father lost his business. His alcoholism and abusive behavior caused me to live in fear. I often woke in the middle of the night screaming from nightmares. And my grandmother had died too. She was the person who had taken care of me since I was a baby. I didn’t have a loving relationship with my mother.

School was another problem for me. I was lonely and depressed. In Hong Kong, academic excellence is the goal of every student. Many of my good friends had gone to science class where they enjoyed “social status,” meaning they were recognized as superior students. I was left out of this group because my family problems kept me from concentrating on my studies. For the first time in my life, I failed the HKALE (Hong Kong Advanced Level Exam)! I felt my hopes for a future were gone.

Another relationship I had seriously impacted the way I saw myself and life. A guy I really cared for rejected me because he said I wasn’t “feminine enough.” This blow to my self-esteem led me to react with bitterness. I deliberately tried to dress, speak, and act like a male. Years later, even after I became a true Christian, I struggled with the idea of femininity. If it meant being submissive, “seen and not heard,” dainty, and even ignorant, then I was not any of these! It took growing in grace and a deeper understanding of God’s love and purpose for my life to free me from these attitudes.

God’s Providence Found Me

Fortunately, God sent me a friend who was a genuine Christian. His name was Emmanuel Kao. He invited me to youth fellowship and Sunday services every week. When I confessed to this friend that I longed to experience the abundant life Jesus promised, he encouraged me: “Seek and you will find.” Another Christian lady in her eighties befriended me. She played a grandma’s role to me when I was grieving the loss of my dear grandma. We sang hymns, read the Bible, and prayed together every Saturday. Even today, I still remember some of the Bible verses we studied. Looking back, I see that God was drawing me to Himself through these two friends.

After becoming a schoolteacher in Hong Kong, I started attending a Chinese Anglican Church. I loved the liturgy and could drown my sorrows in the music, finding a peace beyond description. Thinking that attending church meant you were a Christian, I got baptized and was confirmed in this church. However, I felt no joy and peace in my heart and wondered why. The abundant life Jesus promised was eluding me.

Once again God brought a situation into my life to give me understanding. Because I was a teacher, the pastor of the church asked me to co-ordinate the preparation of Sunday school material. My job was to impart Bible knowledge. As I prepared and taught stories from the Bible, God’s words began to speak to me. Then on Easter Sunday 1975, I attended a conference where the preacher explained that “sin” meant missing the mark—the moral standard set by God. He emphasized, however, that no one need despair because Jesus had fulfilled the demand for moral perfection by dying on the cross—in my place. Later, sitting alone, meditating on Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” I realized that I was a sinner. Not even measuring up to human standards of morality, how could I measure up to God’s standard? I confessed myself to be a sinner and asked God to forgive me. In my inner being, I heard God’s voice saying, “I love you.” In that moment, I experienced His abundant love. I knew I was born again.

Life Lived Abundantly

As a believer in Christ, the life I lived felt truly abundant! My Heavenly Father opened a door for me to continue my studies in Canada—the fulfillment of an academic dream. He abundantly provided all the finances I needed to cover my expenses for not just two years, but eight years.

I came back to Hong Kong with a degree in English and with training from a Bible school and theological college.

During these years, I experienced God’s abundant kindness even through hardships. I often suffered from physical, psychological, and emotional illnesses, mainly stress-related. Getting a degree in English—a second language for me—was no easy task, and I was foolish enough to push myself to maintain a GPA of 3.0. Wise professors at Regent College assured me of the truth that it is the person that matters to God, not performance. I later applied this truth to my life when I failed a piano exam. What a relief it was to know that God loved me no less because of my imperfect performance.

Christian friends prayed for my healing regarding my self-image and helped me feel at home with myself. It’s a beautiful thought to know you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Today, I don’t worry about my lack of “femininity,” and I have friends of both sexes.

A huge psychological burden was lifted when I patched up my relationship with my father. He remained an alcoholic till the end of his life, but after he got cancer, he began to treasure life more. Because God worked in my heart to forgive him, I was able to witness to him of God’s love. At his deathbed, I assured him that he could have God’s forgiveness too. Tears rolled down from the corners of his eyes when I spoke those words, and I truly believe he died trusting in Christ for salvation.

Abundant life is a reality in Christ, but that doesn’t mean we live a fairytale life. The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh,” and I have mine too—a mood disorder. Under stress, I easily get depressed or, for no reason at all, overly-excited. This condition was diagnosed by doctors when I was living in Canada, and I’m now treated with medication and will be for the rest of my life. Due to mood swings, I am not able to manage my daily routine, so I must trust God to usher me through all the days of my life.

Till now, God hasn’t provided me with a Prince Charming, my budget is often tight, and I’m still working on building a better relationship with my mother. However, GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR ME! I have enough to live on. I have friends. I have found children in my nephews and nieces, and I have good doctors to help with my illnesses. Above all, I have hope of eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The life I enjoy is the best life one could ever lead. It is truly abundant life!

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Angela Chan is a retired teacher—or “teacher at heart.” Her passion is to help and mentor young people. She lives in Hong Kong, has studied in Canada, and loves reading literature and writing poetry.

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20220203
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Apr-Jun 2022. CCMUSA.