Fully Alive to More

Wilfredo "Choco" De Jesús

Growing up in Humboldt Park, on the Northwest side of Chicago, it didn’t take long for me to want more for my life. I remember being eleven or twelve and going to the store for my mother. While I didn’t mind helping out, I hated the way the actual experience made me feel. With little money in our single-parent household, I had to use food stamps for items on Mami’s list. I wasn’t ashamed of being poor—most of our neighbors struggled just like we did—but I couldn’t bear feeling trapped, a victim of circumstances beyond my control.

You see, as a Puerto Rican kid growing up in the ‘hood, I encountered so many people who seemed resigned to this kind of existence. Addicts, gang members, the homeless, and even working-class immigrants often seemed like zombies, going through the motions as their hopes for a better life slowly died. I tried not to judge them, but the prospect of dropping out of school, living on welfare, and juggling dead-end jobs ignited a fire in me. I didn’t want to die inside and simply shuffle through life. Even before I became a Christian and God set my life on a completely unexpected path, I knew I wanted to be fully alive. I wanted more than the life I had been born into.

When I was around thirteen, I soon found my more. While attending a church youth service, I discovered a satisfaction I never expected. There, convicted by the Spirit of God, I realized how much I needed Jesus in my life and opened my heart to him. I gave God my life and agreed to follow him wherever he wanted to take me and to do whatever he called me to do.

I was intrigued by Jesus’ promise, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10, NIV), and at the time assumed he was referring only to eternal life. But I quickly experienced the surprising abundance that comes from being fully alive to God’s presence in my life day-in and day-out. He always wants to bless us with more if we’re willing to trust him.

While my circumstances didn’t magically change overnight, I sensed a dramatic shift inside my heart. I felt alive—fully awake and energized by serving God with all my being. I may not have had new Air Jordans or even a box of Cap ‘N’ Crunch, my favorite cereal, but I had the one thing that really matters, the source of a big, bold, blessed abundant life. My relationship with the Living God became the Energizer-bunny battery for my soul. The Lord not only forgave me of my sins and wanted a personal relationship with me, but he also had a special purpose for my life.

God had crazy-big things in store for me, events and opportunities and situations that still blow my mind after all these years. And even after seeing him do the impossible, the improbable, and the incredible time and time again over the past few decades, I know God still loves to surprise me. He continues to empower my life with that full, abundant life I first encountered as a boy. Day after day, his Spirit in me fuels my life with more joy, peace, purpose, and passion than I could ever have imagined at thirteen.

Of course, God’s more is not limited to me or to pastors or Puerto Ricans from Chicago! The abundant more Jesus came to bring is for all of us. God wants you fully alive now as well as for eternity. As the angels told the shepherd at the birth of Christ, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people….a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:10, ESV, my emphasis). God so loved the world—rich and poor, young and old, every skin color and culture—not just a few people here and there, that he sacrificed his beloved only Son (John 3:16). This is the essence of the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus saves us from sin and death and instead gives us grace and life.

God wants you fully alive and he always has more waiting for you. He has promised and planned a richer, more fulfilling life than the one you’re living right now. If you are willing to follow him faithfully, obey him lovingly, and yield to him consistently, you will be amazed. No matter where you are on your journey of faith, God wants to take you higher, stretch you farther, and hold you closer. His more has no boundaries and no limits. His Word promises you—and me and everyone—that we can learn to live in his abundance, fully alive.

Wilfredo "Choco" De Jesús is Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Church (NLC), one of the fastest growing churches in Chicago. 

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