Even if we enjoy traveling, isn’t it nice at the conclusion of a trip to be able to fall into our own bed? There’s something comforting about being “home.” But after we’ve been home for a while, we lose that sense of “I’m home,” or “this is my bed.” Why is that? It’s because we’re abiding.
A dictionary definition of “abide” is to stay or remain, to live or continue in a place. Because of constancy and familiarity, we’re not always conscious of where we are abiding, or think about being home. I suspect fish don’t think a lot about existing permanently in water; it’s their living environment.
Now if someone pulls them out of the water, that’s a different matter.
Think about breathing. We do it continually – we don’t have to remind ourselves every morning, “Okay, now start breathing.” We’re not aware of it unless we become short of breath, like after a run or vigorous exercise. If we’re chronically short of breath, we know that can be symptomatic of a serious health issue.
We also tend to take our joints for granted. They enable us to walk, we bend them, use them to grab or pick up things. We hardly notice them – until we injure them. Then we’re suddenly aware of our thumbs, or knees, shoulders or ankles.
I remember the time years ago when I was driving back into town after a trip to Atlanta. Traffic stopped suddenly for some reason. Glancing into my rear-view mirror, I noticed a vehicle approaching that didn’t seem to be slowing. Having nowhere to go, I instinctively laid on my car’s horn, hoping to get the other driver’s attention. It worked, and the vehicle came to a screeching halt just inches from my car’s rear bumper. But I managed to sprain my thumb in the frantic process.
Over the succeeding weeks, as my thumb slowly healed, I became very aware of how dependent I am on it – for turning a doorknob, tying shoes, holding onto things, other simple tasks I do without thinking about them. I had never realized what a gift it is to have what zoologists call an “opposable thumb.”
The experience was similar when I tore the meniscus – cushioning cartilage – in my left knee. Although I had been an avid power-walker, suddenly I couldn’t walk anywhere without feeling a stabbing pain in my knee. Before I had outpatient surgery to correct the injury, I told my surgeon, “If I had known I had a meniscus, I would have been more careful not to tear it!”
The point is, we spend much of our lives abiding – simply remaining or continuing in a certain state, often not even consciously aware of things so vital for us. I believe this is why Jesus Christ so emphatically told why learning to abide is so important for our relationship with Him.
Jesus and His followers might have been walking past a vineyard when He said:
“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…. 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).
This is something we don’t hear enough about – abiding in Christ. We talk about doing things for Him, serving Him, even “going to the Lord in prayer.” But we rarely ponder what it means to “abide in Christ,” so much that we’re not even conscious of it. What does that look like? I suspect the apostle Paul had this in mind when he explained to contemplative philosophers in ancient Athens, “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
In one of the daily meditations from My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers states, “If we will come to Him, asking Him to produce Christ-awareness in us, He will always do it, until we fully learn to abide in Him.” In another passage, Chambers says, “The one true sign of discipleship is oneness with Him – a knowledge of Jesus that nothing can shake.”
Years ago, the saying, “WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?” made its rounds, appearing on T-shirts and bracelets, and becoming the topic of countless books, articles and sermons. It seemed like a good idea, a reminder to filter our actions through that consideration. However, if we’re abiding in Christ as He urged us to do, should we always need to stop and think, “Now, um, what would Jesus do in this situation?”
If we’re living and moving and having our being in the Lord, as Acts 17:28 supposes, doing what Jesus does and thinking as He thinks shouldn’t always demand a conscious, intentional act, any more than breathing or making our hearts beat. That’s not saying it’s easy, but as we walk with Christ day after day, it should become less necessary to wrack our brains trying to figure out what He expects of us.
When Jesus was teaching His disciples about what it means to abide in Him, He included a statement that indicated even their prayers would be influenced by their growing intimacy with Him. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). If we’re truly abiding with Christ, it will shape the things we ask of Him. That’s not a bad arrangement.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is email@example.com.