Each year my dear friends and I choose a word (or a word chooses us) for the year. It may be something that we desire or something that terrifies us. But it’s always something that grows us up a little. Words are powerful that way. When planted in your soul they germinate, sprout and birth things.
My word for this year is abide. I actually became intimately acquainted with abide a few years ago when a Bible study group I was in made the valiant attempt to memorize John 15. That little word is all over John 15. Abide in me and I will abide in you over and over and over again. The concept seems outrageous, yet so wonderful. Especially the part that says, “If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
That part really got me, because I like to bear much fruit. I like to live as fully as possible. If there’s something that needs to be done, I want to do it. If there’s something hard to achieve, I want to achieve it. If there’s a challenge that seems unbeatable, I want to beat it.
I get giddy on mornings in which I have cycled, swum, been to Sam’s Club, gotten a car wash, and made the kids’ breakfast all before heading off to work by 8:30. Yet sometimes that little rush of a “full” and “fruitful life” wears off at the 3nd red light when I realize I’m not going to make it to work in time. And then, while waiting at the interminable light, gripping the steering wheel with increased intensity, I glance at my phone and notice that there are three messages from people I don’t know but who got my name from “church” or “Aunt Maribel” or Azusa Pacific University and are hoping I can spare just a few minutes to help them with their child-raising challenges, or give them some guidance about how to tell their kids they’re getting a divorce, or to see if I can speak at their co-op preschool next Tuesday. And suddenly that glowing rush of accomplishment I felt only 10 minutes ago flies out the sunroof, and the sports car I’m driving transforms back into the minivan that it actually is.
I feel overwhelmed. Burdened with the reality of a 24-hour day colliding with the myriad of things that call for me, beckon me, pull for my attention and compassion and care.
And He whispers, “Abide in me. Be with me. Come away with me.” And I wonder, “When? How? Is it possible?”
And He replies, “It is always possible.”
As the light turns green I’m left with the memories of 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, and thousands of satiated folks. And I wonder if abiding could work the same way, if remaining in him even when the burdens of existence call us, could possibly create enough fruit to feed the nations.
Abide, abide, abide. The word has been rolling around and around my head and my heart this year. And, miraculously, I have discovered hours to be with Him that I promise shouldn’t exist in real time. Seriously, I am that person who doesn’t have 10 minutes of unscheduled time (and yes, I despise that person as much as you do.) However, this year, I started finding my car turning up Lake Avenue at lunch time toward a little building just north of Washington where live worship plays on and on and on, and my heart settles more and more and more. This little building called PiHop (the Pasadena International House of Prayer) is a place of deep abiding, where the Spirit of the Lord is found and where there is no rush to produce fruit, but only a watering so that the fruit that eventually comes forth is full of the richest nutrients.
I have always known that the most important thing I can do with my life is rest in the shadow of the Almighty, but it has not always been the easiest thing to bring myself into a state of resting. I’m sort of allergic to it. I can’t even turn on the news without this hook going down into my gut and yanking out my insides, reminding me of all the things that this world needs and all the places that are broken and need love and fixing and healing. And all that aching need out there gets stuck on all the tendrils of my “make a difference” mindset and I push to run a little faster, give a little more, stretch a little longer.
Yet, I feel as if this year God is curing my allergy to rest and giving my quiet moments a power and a passion that outweighs any “doing.” Sometimes I even chuckle because here I am in a House of Prayer not actually doing much praying (although there are usually delightful conversations occurring) not always doing tons of studying (although the Word always comes in a very living way) not really doing much of anything besides abiding with Him…obeying his call to His presence, remaining there and being his girl.
No longer is “quiet time” a thing on a check list, it has become the highlight of my day. So much so that even when PiHop moved to a ridiculously hot auditorium last month, I kept abiding (in fact, it’s where I am right now, drenched in sweat, and smiling in contentment.)
I know that more mature folks can find abiding places anywhere, and it doesn’t have to be in a formalized place like a House of Prayer. You can abide in a line at Disneyland, I’m sure of it. But what I do know is that for me, this place is a sanctuary. It has taught me how much God wants me. That I’m so incredibly important to him. That he is so excited that I exist and that I love him and that together we can do anything.
And the more I want Him, really just to hang out with Him without asking for more than His presence (although he’s always okay with asking for more), the more I realize how little I have to worry about how much I get done. I only have 24 hours in a day, but He isn’t bound by time. And if I’m bound to Him, time doesn’t get in the way of anything I am called to do. It might not be tomorrow. It might be when I’m 83, but if it is His will that I do it, it will be done.
I don’t know what my word will be next year, but I do know that it will have a companion. That abide will be my word for the rest of my life. Because without Him I can do nothing.
And boy, do I like to do things.
******Take a little time to rest a little more in him and check out Meg’s post at www.megontap.blogspot.com!!******