3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change Your Life: Connecting

Copy of abide

Abide.

Every year I choose one word to focus on. One word to guide the next twelve months.

At the beginning of 2017, I chose “abide.” I hoped that studying and meditating on that word would help me understand it better. I kept asking, “What does that word mean, exactly?” “How do I abide?” “How does abiding help my relationship with Jesus?” “How can it affect my daily life?”

Although I am still learning, still growing, I am going to share what I have learned so far. I am going to tell three ways abiding in Christ changed my life. This post will concentrate on connecting.

When I began the study of abiding, one of the things I did was to memorize verses with the word “abide.” The first verse I memorized was John 15:5:

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.

As I meditated on this verse, I realized that I often focus on bearing fruit–working for God’s kingdom, making a difference in the world. But if I’m trying hard to produce fruit on my own, it won’t work. Jesus tells me, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” I’m trying to squeeze out some awesome grapes (aka “amazing accomplishments”), but I end up exhausted and frustrated.

3 WaysAbiding in ChristCan Change Your Life
Then I recognized the fact that bearing fruit is not really my job. My role is to simply abide in Christ. And if I abide, fruit comes naturally.

Think about it. What if the branch said to the vine, “I’m working really hard right now to produce some fantastic grapes. All I need to do is read some more books on horticulture and get up before the sun and work till dark. It will be exhausting, but worth it. Vine, I don’t really need you, I just need to put in a little more effort.”

But the vine says, “It’s useless to try to produce fruit without Me. If you are not connected to me, you will not receive the water and nutrients that are necessary for growth and fruit. All you really need to do is stay connected to me. I will give you everything you need to produce amazing fruit if you just abide in me.”

So what does it mean to abide in Christ? We will explore that a little deeper in the upcoming posts, but to put it simply–to abide in Christ is to connect to Jesus. To keep my eyes on Him, trust Him for everything, and to rely on Him instead of my own abilities. It is to obey God’s commands because they are the instruction book for a fruitful and meaningful life. It is to sink my roots deep into His unconditional love and trust that what the Father wills is best.

This focus on abiding changed my life because it changed my attention from:

“How can I produce more?” or “How can I accomplish more?”

to:

“How can I connect to Jesus today?” and “How can I draw on His strength right now?

I shift my focus from what I can produce to what Jesus can accomplish. I turn my attention from doing to resting in His love.

So if you are exhausted by trying to squeeze out fruit–produce something impressive, accomplish something big–remember that’s not your job. Your role is to abide in the vine–Jesus–and then the fruit will come naturally.

Next step: Ask God to show you if you have been focusing more on producing or more on abiding. Write a prayer asking Him to help you learn to abide.

 

Comments

  1. Betty Marschner says:

    I have found this to be really true these days. I see this especially in my Evangelical sisters as we meet for neighborhood Bible study. They are frantically searching for their “calling” like it is a riddle to be solved. God calls us to differing roles in life during differing seasons. Things seem to fall into place if I don’t beat myself up trying to be or do something that the timing isn’t correct as yet.
    I still, though, want to do more for Jesus becuz of what He has done for me but quite possibly what I think He may want me to do is not reality right now. I am beating myself up trying to find the time to write the books I feel I should write but child care and the care of my 43 yr old son in a nursing home right now takes most my energy. So, do I devote myself to caring for others at the expense of writing right now? I still don’t have the entire answer but as things change I can trust the Lord to provide me what I need. I just have to allow Him to teach me to camp out right here… To abide!

    • Thanks for sharing, Betty! You are doing very important work right now in caring for your son and grandchildren. It’s also tempting to think we have to do something that the world recognizes as “important,” but we need to remember that God’s kingdom is upside down from ours. And that means what we think of as significant, may not be significant in His eyes. What think of as unimportant may have true eternal value.

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