A friend and I were walking on the beach a few weekends ago, and she told me about her daily life as a medical resident. Unlike the folks on “Grey’s Anatomy” who walk in through the hospital doors during daylight, she said that she often didn’t see the sunshine. She came in before sunrise. And each day, she had the lives of patients in her hands — that’s pressure. But she got through the day. Barely. Then she left the hospital way after sunset. And she wondered where God was in it all.
I can’t think she’s alone. I’m in ministry, a profession where God is supposed to be quite involved. And yet, I practically act like a card-carrying atheist as I go through my day, answering emails, counseling students, training staff — it all can happen without a sense of God in my daily life. So if ministers can feel that way, then I’m sure that most of the living population — even those who attend Sunday church services devoutly — feel like God is quite far away and disinterested in what we do for a living.
But a co-worker of mine reminded me that Jesus calls us to “remain” in him. Older versions of the Bible say “abide.” It’s the sense of sticking with someone, no matter what. Through thick and thin. Or perhaps, in our day and age, through car and cubicle. So, remain in Jesus. In fact, he’s always around us. Christians are walking temples, places where God chooses to live, places where heaven and earth intersect. That’s who we are. As C. S. Lewis once wrote, there are no ordinary people.
So each moment, I’m trying to learn how to abide. I’m a slow learner. But more than spending an hour with Jesus before the day starts, and then forgetting him for the other 23, perhaps we can find ways to remind ourselves that Jesus is with us — all the time. We need to abide. So when I’m stuck in meetings I don’t want to be at, I just remember to abide. “I’m abiding in Jesus right now,” I’d tell myself. And I smile, knowing that the heavens rush around me.
Being in the vine is the essence of being Christian; abiding is the act of remembering that we are. I wish it were as easy as that. I resonate deeply with your comments, so once you discover the secret, pass it on. BTW, thanks for poppinng by my blog.
Yea, I’ve been thinking about the concept of meeting God face to face and how we are truly seeing him and interacting with him whenever we’re interacting with others. This reminds me of that again. To abide in Him and also abide with him. But oh so hard to consistently keep in mind and heart, as you guys shared. Lord, transform our hearts to be focused on you.
mm. abiding. mm. what a beautiful word all of a sudden. a short but tothepoint Bible study in this entry. good one James :)
thanks for the encouraging msg. i would love it if i could start my entries by saying, “A friend and I were walking on the beach a few weeks ago…” Instead, “A friend and I were sitting in 1369 the other day…” The grass is always greener…
your words spoke to my restlessness this morning.
Uh? I was there too!
haha this is kind of like what you once told us about burning out in ministry and ‘abundance’ =)
Great comments, James. One of the secrets for me has been identifying one place I spend a lot of my time (like “working out in the gym” or “driving”or “emailing” ) and then coming up with various creative ways of remembering and interacting with Jesus. Practicing for a month or two makes it a habit for my heart, and now when I work out or drive I automatically move into a mode of abiding, usually. I’m working on the email one a lot these days, though–that’s really a tough one for me!
Thanks Jon. Great ideas — the building of holy habits. I like it. And by the way, it was your wife who’s the “co-worker” in this post. =)
Your picture of black grapes, a vine and beautiful leaves touches me deeply. I lost my elderly Mom, Dad, and also my sister, all my immediate family in 2005. My Dad gave grew a cutting of his black grape vine for me years before which I now cherish every time I see it and taste its fruit every fall on my patio. It took time for that vine to mature but guess what? The fruit appears not because of itself but because the branches are attached to the vine.
No matter what, we must not become detached from Jesus because he does the work! The fight is his and his yoke is light. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God but for the fruit to bud and mature we must stay connected. We wrestle not with flesh and blood but with evil powers and principalilties. To abide and remain and stay attached to the vine we must daily put on the full armor of God, be steeped in prayer, and STAND!
God bless all brothers and sisters who struggle and strive to abide in the mighty source of power and love that flows through the vine.