Towards the end of last year, I was tired. It had been a very good year, and it had undoubtedly been the busiest year of my life. While there was satisfaction in much of what was done, I was dissatisfied with how I had run out of steam in December. No shame in it, just an indication that too much was being drained from me so that meant too often the source was me.
We were afforded the opportunity to take some time as a couple and as a family and travel. During that incredible time of restoration and connection, I had some time of connection with the Lord which was for just me. It wasn’t sermon prep or mining for teaching points, it was just me and Him. From that time, He took me to this verse to reflect on last year and meditate on during the coming year:
“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.” (John 15:5)
The two words that jumped out were “nothing” and “abide.” We can do things that amount to nothing when we are the source of those things. Where Jesus is not the source as the Vine, we are our own little vines. The fruit of us is temporal and illusory; it is nothing. Only He will produce eternal, true and lasting somethings.
With that sobering realization, the idea of abiding took on new weight. Can you abide by declaring and trying to abide? Is there some way to ensure that you are abiding? More quiet times? More Bible reading? How do I know when I am abiding?
Looking at the definition of the word, I found indicators for how to take an inventory of my methods, attitudes, and focus to determine if I was, in fact, abiding. From the definition, I saw that abiding was in three forms. We can abide (or not):
- In reference to place: remaining continually present as sojourners on a temporary stop in a longer journey without departing to the next thing/place. When I recognize that my time on earth is only the beginning of eternity and not the conclusion of my destiny, I can abide in Jesus.
- In reference to time: in reference to the eternity of the souls of people. When I am present with people, recognizing the value of their souls as designed to spend eternity with Him, I can abide in Jesus.
- In reference to state or condition: as who I am, not who I want to be or who I mistakenly think I might be. When I remember that I am adopted by Jesus as a son of God, righteous by His sacrifice and accepted by His invitation, I can abide in Jesus.
Abiding is a minute to minute proposition some days. There are other times, hours or days, that I “get it” for more extended periods. As for right now, right this moment, I choose to abide as I consider my eternal destiny, the people who I am with and who I am in Him over the distractions that would cause me to be my own little vine. How about you?