I guess I’ve been on somewhat of an undeclared sabbatical…although I wouldn’t say that it has been a restful one. I was continually finding myself with nothing to say, or lacking the energy to write it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up my laptop to start writing, only to find that I haven’t the energy to write anything of consequence. So instead, I have been reading, studying, praying, and listening. By no means am I finished with this process, but what I am sensing is that God is leading me into a new season. A deeper place of trust and intimacy.
During this process I’ve definitely experienced some frustration and discouragement. A feeling of not being quite sure where to go next, what to do next. But at the same time, I have felt His hand guiding me. I have heard His still, quiet voice, gently leading me. And I’m so relieved and ready for change! You see, I’m tired of achieving. I’m tired of productivity. Tired of trying to “get it right” all the time. I just want HIM. He can do it right, He can produce, He can achieve. I just want to be His lover, His follower, His friend. I just want to cheer Him on during His great exploits and victories. I just want to crawl up into His lap when He lays down His armor. I just want to rest my cheek on His chest after He finishes terrorizing my enemies.
I’m done trying to do it on my own or “help” God. I’m done fighting and scrambling and striving. I’m ready for Him to do it.
In my most recent Bible readings, God has been leading me to passages about rest, love, and abiding.
I’ve never been great at resting. A few years ago, my life coach laughingly said that she normally has to tell her clients to get off the couch, but that she wants me to sit DOWN on the couch! So God is working with me on that one. Resting. Abiding.
One of the most potent chapters in the Bible for me is John 15. It hits me right between the eyes, every time. Read with me:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:1-5, NKJV
“Abide in me, and I in you…He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
How much clearer can it get? If I stay in Him, live in Him, and remain in Him, great things will happen! I will bear fruit! He will use me and bless me! Instead of banging my head against a wall or kicking down the doors in my life that need to open, He will go before me and pave the way. Instead of striving, I will be abiding.
Abiding. Him doing the work, me bearing the fruit.
And if not?
If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
John 15:6, NKJV
I always thought that this verse sounded a bit harsh (cast out and thrown into the fire??), but the more I read it, the more my heart understands it. What I see now is that this is a natural effect of not abiding in the vine. It’s a reality of nature. If a branch doesn’t cling to the vine, it falls off, withers, and dies, where it’s then picked up by the vinedresser and used as fire starter.
Isn’t that what we experience when we strive on our own? When we yank ourselves out of the safety of the vine and “give it a go” alone?
I’m not talking about walking away from God. No, sometimes it’s even more dangerous when you think that you’re walking with God, but don’t realize that He’s not with you anymore. He’s back at the stoplight that you blew straight through, or maybe He’s waiting for you at the café where you used to share your morning coffee. Sometimes, in our very best efforts to “work for the Lord”, we miss the Lord Himself! We completely miss His heart.
What is the heart of Jesus? Listen to this beautiful, familiar story found in Luke 10:
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
Luke 10:38-40, NKJV
Is it only me, or do you get “distracted with much serving” at times, also?
(Lord Jesus, help me not to be so occupied in Your kingdom that I leave You behind with my “much serving”! Remind me that You didn’t create me to be Your servant…You created me to be Your bride. Nothing can distract a new bride from her groom…she hangs onto his every word, drinks in his love, and can’t get enough of his kisses. Help me to be like that bride!)
We all know this story…but let it soak into your heart in a new way today. Replace Martha’s name with yours. Let Jesus’ words to Martha pierce your heart and wash you clean of your busyness, your striving, and your serving.
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41-42, NKJV
“Martha! You’re worried about so many things! You’re full of cares and troubles. But only ONE thing is needed; only one thing is necessary. Choose the only thing that can never be taken away from you.”
THIS is the heart of God. He wants to be chosen. He longs for us to pursue Him, to want Him, to cling to Him. He is asking you today… “Will you choose Me? Will you love Me? Will you abide in Me?”
If this resonates in your heart, pray this prayer with me:
“Lord Jesus, I choose You today. I give up on all of my striving and serving. I want only You! You are the Only Thing that is needful…the Only One that can’t be taken from me. You are everything to Me. I surrender myself completely to You and You alone. You are my heart’s desire. I lay down my striving in order to abide in You. I cling to You, Jesus. Have Your way in me. In Jesus’ precious name I pray, AMEN.”
Finally, I want to leave you with this. Let this beautiful Truth soak into your heart today:
“But one thing is needed, and [insert your name here] has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
What is the one thing in your life that always seems to get in the way of abiding in Jesus? What can you do TODAY to make a change? What’s your baby step towards abiding?
I love to hear from you! Leave your answer in the comments below.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/kitta/131321944/”>Nikita Kashner</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>