“In John 15, Jesus said, “Abide in Me.” He meant, “Find the meaning of life in Me. Find your value and confidence in Me. Find your purpose and direction in Me. Find the source for all spiritual achievement in Me. Find the strength to live each moment in Me. Find the wisdom to navigate the many turns in life in Me. Find forgiveness from all your sins in Me. Find the satisfaction of boundless joy in Me. Find the most glorious peace in Me. Find the most perfect love and acceptance in Me. Find the most satisfying life for all eternity in Me. God created us to abide in Him. It’s that basic. Abiding in Him is our life’s purpose. Abiding in Him is what we were created for. Abiding in Him is why we are here.”
-Leslie Ludy from “When God Writes Your Life Story”
I don’t know about you, but I m used to running my own life. I am used living for myself and looking to what I achieve as my basis for how I feel. The idea that everything we feel, achieve, strive for, value, are looking for, etc can only be and should only be found by “abiding” in Christ is completely foreign to the way humans live. It is not our first, second, or even third instinct. Let’s be honest it probably doesn’t even break the top ten for most of us unless we are in desperate need. Humans in general kind of stink at abiding in Christ. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, the biggest one might be that we aren’t even sure what it means to do so.
My good friend Webster defines the word abide as: to wait for, to endure without yielding, to bear patiently, to accept without objection. The new living translation uses the phrase “remain in me.” By getting a better understanding of the word abide, because let’s be honest most of us probably don’t use that word often in everyday conversations, we can maybe begin to get an idea of what Christ is asking of us here. He is asking us to wait for, endure without ceasing, and patiently accept HIM. He is asking us to forge a lifestyle that is immersed in Him.
What would a life like that look like? I’m going to guess it would start out looking somewhat like the life I have been trying to juggle lately. Making time to spend with Christ getting to know Him better, understanding who His is and how He loves. I think it would involve getting to know myself better as a child of God, learning acceptance through Him instead of from others. It would undoubtedly involve loving other people and reaching out to bring a bit of Him to them. It would require a change of priorities as well as a desire for more of Christ. It would probably also require us to be honest with ourselves about any sin and distraction that is keeping us from striving to do the above things.
God has taken it upon Himself to remove my biggest distraction. I most likely would not have been able or willing to do so myself. It still exists, but for the time being is out of my grasp, I have no ability to do anything about it. I have spent a lot of time upset about that, but I am coming to a place where I can be so grateful to God for doing what was best and necessary for me to grow while I am distraction free. Life won’t remain that way and taking the time to build spiritual endurance now will be invaluable then.
We think we will take the time to grow closer to Christ and forge a deeper relationship when things change, when there are fewer distractions. But reality is there will always be distractions, just different ones. In fact, our future distractions will be even more encompassing then our current ones. I’m kind of proud about how I have been prioritizing my time. I have been taking time every day to read and write which is teaching me so much. I am taking time to spend in prayer and mediate on how I feel about what God is teaching me. But reality is not everyone has the kind of time I have. I won’t always have this kind of time. Balance will always be hard and I need to be conscious of my need for more.
I don’t want to spend my life dreaming about what I want. If I do that, then when I get it, it will be empty. I need to spend my life building a foundation for when I get what I dream. If the desires of my heart are placed there by God, He promises He will fulfill them. I have the choice to waste this time chasing them or growing in preparation of them. Henry David Thoreau said, “If you build castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” God grants us the ability to dream, but we need His firm foundations to build up to them.
The act of learning to abide in Christ for all things is a long growing process. We cannot create that type of life on our own and it won’t happen fast or easily. It will most likely be painful as most growth is. It will require sacrifice and an exchange between us and Christ. To make a decision to do so requires EVERYTHING we’ve got.
Have you been thinking about what it would take for you to give Christ your all? To abide in Him for everything? How can you begin to fashion your life to move toward growth?