Two weeks ago I attended a women’s prayer retreat with about 30 women from my church. The theme was John 15:1-17 where Jesus describes himself as the vine, God as the vinedresser and his followers as the branches. The key verse was John 15:4- “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. ”
As I walked up the narrow winding road through the woods, I asked God, “What does it mean to abide in You?”
He answered Unscheduled, uninterrupted time with me. You don’t plan what you’re going to talk about before you hang out with friends and you don’t keep texting or talking on the phone when you’re with them- more like that.
Not just asking (or telling) me stuff. As you would with a friend, ask what I have been up to. Listen and receive.
Abiding is not a thing to do-
it’s a posture of the heart,
a stillness of the soul,
a focus of the mind,
an openness to hear Me speak,
an eagerness to respond to My presence.
Stubborness can make me a slow learner sometimes, but slowly it started to sink in that abiding is less about what I have to say to God and more about what God desires to reveal to me. Wow!
As I processed the passage and went through the prayer guide, God continued to reveal His truth to me. One of the questions was “What are the barriers in your life that make it difficult to abide?” I wrote down busyness and that abiding is not viewed as productive. Gently, my Teacher helped me see how faulty that logic was!
When there is a difficult situation in my life or lots of work to be done, my initial thought (perhaps yours too) is to buckle down and get to work. Act now- pray for God’s blessing and direction later. I need to DO something, even if I sense a lack of clarity. Lack of action can be viewed as nothing more than weakness and cowardice. Or maybe not.
John 15:5 says “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.” This verse directly opposes my human logic. The only way to bear fruit is if I abide in Christ. Without Christ, nothing matters. If I want what I do to matter, Christ must be the source of it all. I need His help to understand that abiding must preceed action!
Echoing these thoughts, I can’t think of a better song than “Full Attention” by Jeremy Riddle. 🙂 Lord, keep us abiding in You.