“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5 ESV)
When I started thinking about this new year, my mind immediately jumped to a list of things I’d love to accomplish. Books I’d like to write or publish. A business idea to launch. Financial goals to reach. Dreams for our family along with memory-making trips and experiences. All great stuff and ambitious things to aim for…but also overwhelming in terms of how much time and work it would involve to get those things done.
And suddenly I was tired before the year even began. I wanted a fruitful life, but somehow forgot that it doesn’t all depend on my efforts. Fruit happens when I stay connected to the Source of life. When I’m disconnected, I inevitably fail…and get all brittle and dried out in the process.
So, in 2017, I’m learning to Abide. Well, actually I’m trying to remember a lesson that God taught me five years ago when I spent a year blogging about the idea of being like a tree planted by the streams and bringing forth fruit in season. (Check out my “Tree Theme” category of posts or read them all in one place in Be Like A Tree.) I guess that means I’m a slow learner or maybe that I need to grow the idea at a deeper level this time around.
Abide. To accept or act in accordance with. (Not doing my own thing. Ouch.) To hold, conform, adhere, or stick to. (Think Super glue and we can’t be separated.) To stay or live somewhere. (Not a momentary thing but a permanent settling in and making myself at home.) To remain or continue with. (Think long-term commitment.) Abide.
On a practical level, that means putting God first. Seeking Him for wisdom to prioritize the day’s tasks. Returning often to prayer as needs and questions arise throughout the day. Staying in an attitude of worship through music playing on the radio. Turning my thoughts toward the question of what God would have me do in this situation. Listening to that still small voice for direction. Being still as I stop striving and instead let God fight my battles. Partnering with Him when I sit down to create. Feeding my mind truth throughout the day.
But mostly just being aware of God’s presence in my life. Letting Him hold, carry, and flow through me moment by moment.
If I can grasp what it means to abide in Him this year, the fruit will happen as a by-product. Or else, I’ll discover I was trying to grow the wrong kind of fruit in the first place. Either way, it will be a good year.
What about you? What is God teaching you (or reminding you of) lately? What kinds of fruit would you like to see in your life? What does abiding look like to you?