It's one of those words that keeps coming back to me this year, a word that returns to me again and again. I think I get it, I understand, and God shakes his head and crinkles his eyes and smiles at me and I know that I'm still in the shallow end. I'm hardly wading yet.
Every time Ally and I get together to plan a worship night, we ask the same questions.
"What's been on your heart?"
"Do you have a theme for this one?"
"What has God been teaching you?"
And each time I came back and I had two words that wouldn't go away. Obedience. Abide.
We never used them for worship nights. I kept coming back to abide, but it wasn't the right one, it wasn't the right time.
Abide is the word which gages my relationship with God most effectively. Am I abiding? Am I not abiding? When and how and why am I abiding?
It's one of those things that I drift in and out of; one week I am, the next week I'm not. Last month I was taking the dog for a walk in the mist and the rain, and I was thinking about and mulling over things that I wanted to be done dwelling on. And there was the word, out of the silence —"Abide."
We've been going through John in college group this semester, chapter by chapter slowly making our way through it. I taught in college group last semester once, but I hadn't done it again this semester. I didn't have the time or the energy to think about it because of auditions. Then last week, a friend texted me: "Hey, would you want to lead college group this next week? John 15."
"Abide in me, and I in you," Jesus tells his disciples. "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
So the word that was the song on my lips this year, the word that was the lantern in my hand, that word was the the chapter that we studied on Wednesday. That we prayed over and talked about and wrote down.
"Abide in my love," he says. "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."
The truth is that I am terrible at abiding. There are times when I am great at it, but they are few and far between, and the rest of the time I'm just off living my life like it's mine to live. There are many days that I hardly think about the Spirit who dwells in me, much less ask him for help.
Abiding is my thermometer. Am I joyful? If the answer is no, the question is "Am I abiding?" Am I resting in Christ? No? Then I'm not abiding. Am I bearing fruit? No? Then I'm not abiding.
"Seek the Lord and his strength,
seek his presence continually."
So this week I'm trying to abide. Trying to set my mind on the things above, ask for help, for guidance, because apart from him I can do nothing of eternal value. I'm not worrying so much about a quiet time in the morning as I am trying to cultivate a quiet place within my heart that abides with him, every moment. I want my motivation, my strength, my life to flow from him. He is the source.
I want to be deep in him, sunk down in him, drawing from his endless store of love, and goodness, and joy and peace and rest. I want to love people like He loves them, seek justice that honors him, give in overflowing measure because I know what my source is. I want to live in him.