In John 15, God through His Son Jesus says over and over again, ‘abide in me.’ We know he did not mean to abide in a physical home, because He said himself that he had nowhere to lay his head. In this sense, Jesus is speaking of allowing our hearts to be nestled, finding security in Him and His ways, His word. I have so often seen his wings as a place to run for temporary comfort, or an emergency 911 when there is trouble. But that is not the type of relationship God had in mind when he called me by name and invited me into his presence. The song ‘Come Thou Fount’ says, ‘Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.’ Truly, if we love him, it will translate into a desperate desire to dwell where the only true comfort in this life can be found. God has set up each of our lives and given us everything we need to do all he has created us for. And, surprisingly enough, that first and foremost purpose is not to serve him. We can work our fingers to the bone for God, or at least we think and say it is for him, but do it without joy because of a lack of relationship. Rather, He created us so that we would stand in awe of Him and love him and glorify him forever. The words ‘abide in me’ indicate a standing invitation to live, dwell, exist in the presence of God continually. Not to pay a visit once a morning and say, ‘ok God, I read that verse, said amen, and now, on with the day.’ No, it is to allow the Word to penetrate our hearts so that we are able to make decisions on a daily basis that reflect a heart that has been purified through the filter of God’s Word. If we don’t live in it and know what it says, it is impossible to live by it. God’s Word is Who He is. It speaks of His character, His ways that are so much higher, His best and His purpose, both for my life and for His kingdom as a whole. When we are abiding, we can be strong and courageous, as in the words of the Lord to Joshua when he commissioned him as the leader of his people Israel. Being careful to do all the law, knowing the ways and therefore the heart of God, refusing to turn to the right or to the left... Doing this brings tremendous security and peace because when we align ourselves with the ways of God, we have his presence and therefore his power in our lives to overcome and be victorious. When we have his peace, we can offer it to others and therefore expand his kingdom.
The good news is that in this abiding, we find rest. Not a salve or a temporary fix, but a continuous and on-going joy that gives rest not just to the body but to the soul and spirit as well. Matthew 11:28 says, ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ It is his yoke that is easy and his burden that is light. The burden we take on ourselves by trying to live on our own goodness and ‘I’ll do it myself’ mentality is so much greater than the discipline of living a godly life, in every area. It is impossible to experience the rest spoken of here when any area of life is withheld from the transforming power of God. To withhold from God in any area is to be double-minded and unstable in all ways. (James 1:8) How can we have the mind of Christ? By renewing our minds day by day. Romans 12 says, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’Now, renewing the mind is a continuous process. We cannot live on the faith we had last year or even yesterday. We are forgetful when it comes to God’s grace, and without my spirit being fed, it will not be strong enough to win in times of trial. That is why God says ‘abide.’ If it was a one-time renewal process, he would say ‘drop in every now and then for a visit.’ By default, we self-destruct, so a relationship with God and abiding in him must be a purposeful and daily commitment.
I think of the story of the wise man and the foolish man who built their homes. By outward appearances, the houses looked and seemed the same. One was built on the rock, the other on the sand. All was well until the storm came, and the foundation of the rock stood firm. What happened to the house on the shifting sands? It washed away, and was destroyed. The only firm foundation for our lives, our homes, and our life purpose is the Word of God. His word is truth, and by abiding in Him and in His word, it will come alive within and be the basis for the words we speak and the decisions we make every day. Then we will find rest, peace, and security, and will prosper in every way.