“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3:17

As the first line hints, the song “Life Abundantly” was kind of written in response to Matthew 6:25-34:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Also, it was written in reflection of how God did not come to just give us life after death, but life now. At this stage in my life authors like Frederick Buechner, Brennan Manning, and Henri Nouwen were really shaping my theological devotional thought (and a little Max Lucado). In essence, I was learning that God loved me as I was, not what I would be someday. One my favorite highlighted passages in Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel says,

“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned–our degree and our salary, our home and garden, a Miller Lite and a good night’s sleep–all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift, “If we but turn to God,” said St. Augustine, “that itself is a gift of God.”

My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out)

So, given all this, the song is pretty much just a celebration of Grace that takes me as I am.
*By the way, the last verse? That was about my singleness and the woman I was going to marry someday. My wife was written into my songs long before I met her 🙂
Life Abundantly
(c) 2000 Joel A Bidderman Regarding the birds and the flowers…
Now I see what You mean, there’s nothing better than
You loving me
So I’ll sing: Your faithfulness and strength and Your mercy
And before this heart faints…let me say
What You are to me, cuz it astounds my mind
That You chose me

And when I think of what I have and do not see, well, I’m amazed
And I am overjoyed that You’d use me
So as we talk with me on my knees, I wanna’ say
Thanks for dying to give life abundantly

And when we talk about lonely
You know what I mean, and if tears fall
You made me
That’s why I’m growing
Closer to You, can’t wait until You show me
The other part of me

I’m walking, I’m talking, I’m singing for You Lord
I’m learning, I’m breaking, I’m growing closer to You my Lord
I’m kneeling, I’m bowing, I’m praying to You Lord
I’m jumping, I’m shouting, I’m dancing for You Lord

Vocal & Guitar: Joel Bidderman
Vocals: Tabitha Hauser, Erin Parsons
Drums: Wes Clark
Bass: Jay Brashear
Percussion: Fred Jacobs
Guitar: Joe Sanzo
Keys: Jake Parsons