Abide in Me . . . (John 15:4)
Abide: To remain in a place...To continue to be sure or firm; endure...To dwell or sojourn...To conform to; comply with...To wait patiently for...
Our Lord commands us to abide in Him. He goes so far as to say that unless we abide in Him, we cannot bear fruit and are not truly His disciples. Looking at the definitions of the word abide, I believe when our Lord commands us to abide He does not merely mean to not turn away from the faith...thought it does mean that (to remain in place, continue to be sure), but it also means more than that. It means to dwell, to conform, to comply...and to wait patiently for.
Oswald Chambers says that abiding requires us to "build [our] thinking patiently to bring it into perfect harmony with [our] Lord." And to do this, we must bring "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5 )...in intellectual matters, in money matters, in every one of the matters that make human life what it is. Our lives are not made up of only one neatly confined area."
We cannot abide in one area and not another, that is not abiding...that is cordoning off areas we want to allow God control over and keeping other for ourselves. That is not bringing our thinking into perfect harmony with our Lord...it is not to dwell, conform or comply. We must all come to a place where we decide that He truly is Lord of ALL...not just some things...but ALL things. And go about the work of taking thoughts captive as our will rises up, and rebuilding our thoughts in accordance with His word.
We also cannot wait to abide when our circumstances change or we feel we have sufficient time or even wait for our hearts to want to abide. Our hearts always want what we want first...we must choose to conform and comply with Christ, despite our hearts. We must choose and act on that choice not the leanings of our hearts. Life, our thoughts, our emotions will always get in the way if we let them. But again, there is the point of decision: is Christ Lord of ALL? If we say yes, there can be no "but" following. Our circumstances, our desires, our longings, our plans, our schedules, our emotions or opinions simply don't matter. They are not authoritative. They are not Lord...Christ is Lord and His will is what needs to prevail if we are to bear fruit and be called His disciples.
Chambers goes on to say: "Think of the things that take you out of the position of abiding in Christ. You say, "Yes, Lord, just a minute— I still have this to do. Yes, I will abide as soon as this is finished, or as soon as this week is over. It will be all right, Lord. I will abide then." Get moving— begin to abide now. In the initial stages it will be a continual effort to abide, but as you continue, it will become so much a part of your life that you will abide in Him without any conscious effort. Make the determination to abide in Jesus wherever you are now or wherever you may be placed in the future."
That last part is very important, I think. If we can determine to abide, regardless of what life looks like or what our mind says or heart feels...we can abide no matter how things change in the future. Often, my married friends say to me "yeah, you can read the way you do, and blog and journal and so on because you are single and have no children. Just wait until you do..." I have no doubt that things will look different when the Lord blesses me with a husband and family. I have no doubt that I will have to fight harder than I do now for that time...but I believe (as Chambers asserts) that the effort I have made to abide now will see me through. It has become, for me, an essential part of life. The Lord has developed consistency and my heart has been changed to the point that I yearn for and require my time with Him each day. Though my circumstances may change, I believe the heart change He has affected will allow me to continue with Him. The format and content and even time of day may change, but He who has been my dwelling place will not change...and I pray my desire for Him only increases even if my available time decreases.