Abiding

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Life lessons come in all shapes and sizes if we choose to see them as life lessons and learn from them.  “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you.  If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.” (I John 2:24).  The word abide in the ancient Greek means to stay, to dwell, to remain.  It is knowing the truth and remaining in the truth.

A few months ago I was using the chain saw to cut down a tree that was in the middle of where my garden is going to go.  It was the first time I had used the chain saw in a few months so my technique was a bit rusty.  Needless to say rusty technique and a chain saw do not go very well hand-in-hand or as my case goes chain saw-in-leg.  After using the chain saw for a short time, I pulled it out of the tree I was cutting to check my progress without realizing that my leg was a bit too close.  I held the wound closed and limped to the house.  I took a picture and was going to send it to my friend who is a nurse and ask her if she thought I needed stitches.  I took the picture and then thought, “As a nurse, Danna, if someone sent you that picture what would you tell them…Of course, I would have told them to go get stitches.”  I knew the truth, but questioned my ability in making that decision.  Six stitches later and now with an unattractive scar on my leg, I learned a lesson about abiding.

Abiding is staying, dwelling, or remaining in the truth.  It’s one thing though to know the truth and quite another to act on that truth.  I knew the truth “go get stitches,” but did the truth actually abide in me?  As I drove myself to the urgent care to get stitches my knowledge turned into action.  “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3: 17, 18).

True abiding is not talking about good deeds.  True abiding is performing good works out of love.  As I anticipate my future garden, I think about the poles I will need so I can have some pole beans.  These beans grow best as they cling to the pole.  They will be the most productive as they cling to the pole.  Isn’t that the same thought as abiding in God?  The closer I abide, the more I cling, the more productive living out God’s love I will be.  The bean does not lose itself because it clung to the pole, rather it became a more productive bean because of the pole.

I could have hoped my leg would heal without going to get stitches, but the reality is that it healed much better with the stitches. The Bible gives us instructions on how to live, but the key is do we listen to those instructions while abiding in Christ and becoming more productive because we were abiding?  God does not force us to abide; He simply asks us to abide.  The bean can choose to grow on the ground, but the productivity will be diminished.

Abiding produces fruit.  Not abiding produces a different kind of fruit.  We all chose which fruit we want to produce.

Abiding is a choice.

A lesson from a Chainsaw

 

fallen tree

I had to go to Weingartz to get my chainsaw checked out.  I am eagerly anticipating putting in a garden this year, but since we live on an old Christmas tree farm there are a few trees that are in my way. There was also a beautiful flowering tree right in the middle of this plot of land that needed to be cut down.  Cutting down this flowering tree was a big job and I had to make sure I did it before it began to bloom, otherwise, I would have many second thoughts.  The evergreens were on their last leg (or branch) and looked rather spindly.  The flowering tree will live on as the fence I need to put around the area to keep out the raccoons, groundhogs, deer, rabbits, and whatever else thinks it might just want to make supper out of my garden.

Anyway, back to the chainsaw.  I got it stuck a few times, and was having trouble with the chain. I thought I had it fixed, but being a bit of a newcomer to the chainsaw gang, I went to Weingartz for a bit of advice.  Sure enough once it was taken apart and put back together, the reason for the chain problem was clear.  After a new bar, new chain, and a tiny screw were used, the chainsaw worked like a champ.  My blade was crushed and my chain was missing a few teeth.  As I was paying, the service tech said, “It will be a lot easier to use now and won’t be so much work.”  I knew exactly what he meant, because it had become a lot of work.

The spiritual application to this story came as I was cutting down and cutting up more trees for my garden.  (Manual labor is a good medium for me to think, but I sure am sore.)

Psalm 116:1, 2 “I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my plea for mercy.  Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore, I will call on Him as long as I live.”

I read these verses and was overwhelmed.  God wants to listen to me.  God created me for relationship with Him.  As I kneeled in prayer that morning tears running down my cheeks, I thanked God for wanting to have a relationship with me.  Who am I that the Creator of the Universe would want to have a relationship with me?  Not only does He want to have a relationship with me, but He also wants to listen to me.  Again, I say, “Who am I?”  How often have my prayers been repetitive pleas?  How often have my prayers been incomprehensible except for the understanding of my all-knowing God?

“Psalm 119:9-16 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.  With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Blessed are you, O Lord, teach me your statutes…In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.  I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.  I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”

The key to being pure here is God’s Word.  This is more than sexual purity.  This is purity from sin.  How do we keep ourselves pure from sin?  Guard, not wander, store, learn, delight, meditate, and not forget God’s Word.  The more time we spend reading God’s Word, the more it infiltrates our thoughts and our actions.  We are hearing from God.

As we spend time in the presence of God through prayer and Bible reading, we begin to act like Him and talk like Him.  When I meet a friend for coffee, I usually allocate at least one hour to spend listening to them and talking with them.  If I met someone for coffee and ten minutes later got up and said, “It’s been nice talking to you.”  They might have a few choice words for me.  Spending time with God each day developing a relationship with the Creator of the Universe through prayer and Bible Study should be the most important part of our day, and yet it often is not.

 

Martin Luther said that the busier he got, the more time he spent in prayer.  On exceedingly busy days, he would get up early and spend three hours in prayer.

God wants to hear from us.  He told us this in His word.  God also told us to delight in His word to help our lives stay pure.

When I took my chain saw back out to the trees, the words from the repair man came back to me. “It will be easier to use and won’t be so much work.”  True to his word, it was easier and not so much work, and the chain didn’t come off anymore.

So will be the days of our lives.  When we start our day cultivating a deep and intimate relationship with our Savior our Christian life will be “easier and not so much work.”  We will still face temptation.  We will still face trials.  Yet, when we start the day focused on our Savior, His Word will come back to us.

Not only will the Christian walk be “easier and not so much work,” but also we will have an intimate relationship with the Savior of the Universe.  I want to be first in line for that!