“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4
Do you struggle with this teaching?
I really do, even though I believe these three tiny words—”Abide in me”—say all I really need to know about connecting with God. Spirit's still small voice has been impressing this teaching on me lately in various ways, but when I try to be intentional about getting quiet and thinking about what it means to abide in Christ in the midst of my crazy, busy life, I feel like a puppy or a child squirming in a parent's lap…all she wants to do is scramble away somewhere and get into some kind of mischief.
If you struggle with this too, I want you to know you're not alone. It's challenging to nourish a vibrant spiritual life in the midst of competing attention-grabbers, and I'd love to know how you've achieved balance in your life.
The image of the vine is powerful
Years ago, I read a beautiful little book called Secrets Of The Vine by Bruce Wilkerson. In it, the author explored John 15 and its metaphor of Christ as the vine. Grape vines would have been a powerful image for the early followers of Jesus. They would have instantly understood the importance of the vine providing the source of nourishment for the fruit. Without it, there would be no fruit. The grapes would shrivel up and drop off. Wilkerson made the case for how important it is to keep ourselves attached to Christ so we too can be nourished and fruitful.
Yet how does one simply abide in a world of noise and distraction?
If you've ever tried to meditate or pray, you know the feeling. All I have to do is tell myself I'm going to quiet my mind for ten minutes to have every crazy distraction flood into my brain and make it seem impossible. The term “monkey brain” is perfect.
“I've got to call Mama.”
“I need to write Sarah.”
“If I don't get the clothes out of the dryer, they'll be wrinkled.”
“I have to get milk today or we won't have any for breakfast in the morning.”
“I've got to buy a wedding present.”
The phone rings; the dryer end-of-cycle buzzer goes off; I hear a sound outside that needs investigating.
I see you smiling. Admit it…
Abiding does not come easily for me. I just hope God smiles and shakes his head instead of being angry or frustrated with me. If I know He would take such pleasure in my just slowing down and enjoying His presence for awhile, why is it so hard to do?
The scourge of multi-tasking
While I'm on a roll, here's another true confession: I have a hard time doing just one thing at a time, even though I know better. Far too often it means I don't do any of the tasks as well as if I'd focus on one at a time.
- When I take a walk, I'm tempted to listen to an audio book while I'm walking instead of using the time to calm my mind and observe the natural world around me.
- When I'm on the phone with someone, it's hard to stop fiddling with whatever I was doing before the phone rang instead of focusing on the person at the other end of the line.
- When I'm talking to my husband, I find myself glancing at my cell phone or perusing the headlines of the newspaper instead of giving him my full attention.
- Even when I'm reading scripture or my daily devotional, I'm looking for blog content I want to share with you instead of just paying attention and letting the words of scripture seep into my soul.
I refuse to waste energy on self-condemnation
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
Okay, I'm not perfect. I get distracted easily. I start new things before I've finished old ones. I overcommit. I don't abide in Christ as firmly or as often as I'd like.
But hear me well: I know who I am and whose I am.
I will ask every day for guidance. I will mentally pick myself up and place myself into God's lap over and over again, even if I start squirming right away to get out.
And I'm comforted to remember how precious that puppy and baby are when they're sleeping instead of squirming. I know that God loves me anyway. Thanks be to God!