British pop singer Adele has an intriguing line in her hit song, “Rolling in the Deep.” You’ve no doubt heard it blare from a restaurant or department store sound system at one point or another, even if you didn’t pay any attention at the time.
The catchy hook says, “We could have had it all.” I found myself humming that line recently and then reflected on whether it’s a true statement of God’s will for believers. Does our Heavenly Father want His children to “have it all ”?
On the one hand, I’ve seen lots of people destroy their lives by trying to “have it all.” Some of them thought they could enjoy the Lord’s blessings, even while hanging on to worldly addictions and pleasures that were outside of His will. “Having it all,” in such cases, is simply a form of spiritual compromise, which never results in true peace, fulfillment, or fruitfulness.
Another misguided form of attempting to “have it all” is to lead an unfocused life, never really sure of our true calling and purpose. This kind of mistake is typified by such things as multiple careers, multiple ministries, or engaging in a revolving door of personal relationships. Trying to have it “all,” we end up like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower, never staying with one thing long enough to make a lasting impact.
But the Bible speaks of another kind of “having it all,” and this one is much more positive. The Prodigal Son’s older brother became outraged at how the father lavishly greeted his wayward brother who had returned from feeding the pigs in a faraway country (Luke 15:11-32). He angrily told his father, “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (vs. 29-30)
It just didn’t seem fair. The older brother felt deprived when he compared his situation to the love showered on the prodigal. For all of his hard work, there was no sense of celebration or joy. It had been years since he’d experienced the father’s loving embrace—if he had experienced it all.
The father gave the older brother a startling reply to his complaint: “My son…you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (vs. 31-32).
Wow. Did you catch what the father said here? The older brother had rightful access to EVERYTHING the father owned—yet he felt deprived, because he wasn’t experiencing the abundance, intimacy, and joy he was entitled to. While the prodigal was squandering his inheritance in a life of sin, the older brother was squandering his in a life of religious drudgery.
As this story illustrates, we really can “have it all”—not through sin or religion, but by walking in an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father. He didn’t withhold His beloved Son from us, so “how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us ALL things?” (Romans 8:32)
You see, when you have Jesus, you already have it ALL! “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…has blessed us in the heavenly realms with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
So the next time you hear Adele sing “We could have had it all,” remember this: Although the older brother could have had it all, he sadly missed out—just as so many Christians are missing out today.
Never forget: You have it all if you have Jesus! But make sure you aren’t like the older brother—slavishly serving, but never experiencing the blessings available in the father’s house. The celebration has begun, my friend, and the Father is beckoning you to enter in.