I have this little piece of wall art that hangs on my wall and it says ‘Abide in Him’. Using wall art that include words or Scripture speak loudly of my convictions and beliefs. But the word abide (in itself) is such a descriptive of the Spirit-filled life that I desire to live, yet struggle to attain.
I was plowing through a book by Francis Chan, called “Forgotten God”, and in his convicting fashion I was challenged by one of my favorite chapters in the book of John, chapter 15. Chan issues a challenge by asking a profound question, is my life too loud, to which I could readily say “yes it is!”. Then Francis proceeds to encourage us to put down his book and pick up the Book and read a few chapters in the book of John. Right to some of my favorites in John, chapters 14, 15 and 16.
The verb “abide”, according to Merriam-Webster means to wait, endure without yielding, to bear patiently. It also means to remain stable or in a fixed state and to continue in a place. In John 15 where the picture of the ‘vine’ is used to describe our life in Christ–we being the branch, Christ being the vine and then the Father addressed as the vinedresser–John uses the word “abide” ten times:
John 15:4-11 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
Do you think maybe there is a point to be made here? There are ten references to the word abide in the verses above that are being used to drive home some profound points:
The imperative to remain in Christ;
We aren’t fruitful if we don’t;
If we refuse to abide in Christ we can be thrown away for we aren’t fruitful;
There is an invitation to remain in Christ’s love;
By walking in obedience we partake in His love.
So when I am restless, when I am struggling through (with my own resources) and forgetting that apart from Him I can really do nothing, instead of being frustrated with myself I really need to stop and remember that I am a partaker with Christ. I really sell myself short and settle for less than His best by “trying” or “trying to do it myself”. I am sure my Father is thinking “Oh foolish girl”, as I expend efforts that amount to little when in Him I can accomplish great things or at least what He desires and that spells success!
I don’t believe if you are a driven person that there is necessarily an easy way to submit your efforts for His peace that only comes from abiding in Him! God desires that we would “remain stable or in a fixed state” by abiding in Him walking in the Spirit-filled life. But from one who has been there…stop striving, try it and see. Then you can appreciate these words from the Psalmist, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Abiding in Him is where we fulfill the Spirit-filled life that God desires we live out for Him and His glory!
Father, I remember that this battle to ‘do’ in my own efforts is a winnable battle when I walk with you! I will make the choice today to let You lead via Your Spirit which is living in me! The rest that comes from giving You the reins of my life is well worth the concerted effort it takes to hand them over. So thank You Father for the gift of Your Holy Spirit who allows me to quit my striving by abiding in You!