4 “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. 5 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 15:4-5 (KJV)
The prairie fields were surprisingly lush for mid-July, but as we came over a rise, the seemingly endless patchwork of green was broken by an unexpected square of electric yellow. “Look at that, boys,” I commented to my kids in the back seat. “See that field? That’s canola.” “Oh,” mused my youngest. “Is that what they use to make canola bars?” Although I thought it was funny enough to put on my Facebook status later, we did have a little enunciation lesson in the car!
It’s part of growing up, isn’t it? Having our misconceptions clarified and our understanding expanded. There have been many times when God has had to teach me things I thought I already knew. For example, as I grew up in the church I often heard of Jesus’ instruction to “Abide in me” (John 15:4). For a long time I assumed this meant going to Sunday School regularly, praying at meals, and doing devotions. In recent years, though, God has been using the experiences of others to correct and expand my childish notion of abiding.
Depending on the translation, the phrase “Abide in me” may be translated “Remain in me,” “Stay with me,” or “Make your home in me.” Clearly it is much more about staying in close relationship with Jesus all the time than about performing specific acts or heading off to church. When it comes to spiritual lessons, though, I seem to be a slow learner . . . especially when I have to unlearn something first. That’s why I am so thankful for those who have written about their spiritual ‘growing up’ experiences. Their examples have encouraged and challenged me to see how I can better develop my friendship with Jesus rather than just tackle a religious to-do list. Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve been reading; each of these authors tells of their own experiences as they developed the ability to abide more consistently. Maybe one of them will encourage you as they have me:
Soul Revolution by John Burke, a pastor in Austin, Texas, challenges readers to try an experiment: “For the next 60 days, try to stay in a continuous, honest conversation with God, willing to do his will moment by moment.” (check out his blog at www.soulrevolution.net)
Burke quotes from Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank C. Laubach who, back in the 1930s, wrote about how his life was turned around by his determination to take seriously the concept of abiding with Christ moment by moment.
Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a 17th century French monk, is the all-time classic on the subject. It’s very short and very readable. In fact, you can download and print your own copy from this link: http://www.practicegodspresence.com/brotherlawrence/index.html
It’s sometimes embarrassing to find out that I’ve misunderstood your words. But thank you for taking the time to show me my errors and to teach me the truth. Thank you for wanting to be with me. Help me to learn how to stay close to you hour by hour and day by day. I want my life to bear fruit, so I need to abide in You.
Contributed by Kim Grant
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