Our summer sure sped swiftly! While we’ve met here week after week, I’ve been growing in understanding of what Jesus means by, “remain in me as I also remain in you” (John 15:4). Remaining, that practice of dwelling or abiding, is more than prayer. It’s more than worship. Or Bible reading. Or making good choices. Abiding is all of that–and more.
The abiding life flows from a river within us that is fed by multiple streams: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social. To neglect one stream, one area of life, is to deprive the river within us health and life and goodness.
- If we only ever workout our bodies but never our minds or spirits, our rivers become shallow and unswimmable.
- If we only ever study to attain knowledge, our rivers dig deep ruts that bog us down.
- If we only ever listen to our feelings, our rivers reroute into circles that turn into spirals.
- If we only ever sit in silence and solitude, never to engage with people, our rivers dam up, becoming much like the Dead Sea.
But, if you’re still here, still seeking to grow in your abiding life, then I know you’re like me. You want to be whole in Christ–to bring all of yourself to Him. So that you can remain in Him–to rest, to surrender, to serve, to confess, to listen, to be.
We’ve been learning that to be whole in Christ means exercising every part of ourselves, not allowing one area to dominate or distract. And, as I write this, I’m tempted to say we need ‘balance,’ but perhaps ‘balance’ insinuates equality–the idea that everyday, in every season we’re to give equal effort and attention to our bodies, minds, emotions, spirits, and people. However, I’m discovering that’s just not the case–because different seasons require varying attention. For instance:
- In a season of illness or recovery, it’s important to give our bodies more attention.
- At a time of family crisis, we must give our loved ones more of ourselves.
- When our thought-lives tank and we can no longer cope, it’s imperative to get help and give energy to what needs healing.
Balance may not be what we strive for, but rhythms are.
Like the tempo of music, rhythms of life accelerate and slow down, syncopate and synchronize–depending on the season.
As a young mom, my daily rhythms focused much on keeping my little ones fed, loved, and safe while my time with God came in spurts as I washed dishes or rocked a baby. And, now, as an empty-nester, my rhythms have reversed. I get to sit with the Lord for quite a while in the mornings because the demands of my time have changed.
But even in that child-rearing season, there came a day after my youngest was born that I sensed God calling me into a deeper time with Him. Half scoffing, I told Him that I would need His help to do so because my baby awoke the minute he heard me up. I said it with little faith but with much earnestness. And, God did it. He made a way, so I got up earlier and began anew in Bible study–which not only gave me time with Him and in His Word but with other women.
I know my story is not yours. But I do know life has seasons, and in each one, God meets us where we are. When He challenges us to deepen an area of our lives, He will make a way for it to happen. And when He does, all we have to do is trust. And obey.
So, as we draw this Abide series to a close, I wonder what rhythms you’ve begun employing this season. Contemplative practices? Worship? Interior examination? Claiming truth? Fighting words? Gratitude? Surrender? Stillness?
If you haven’t entered into any rhythms yet, a great place to begin filling your streams is to ask God to show you where to start. And, as you step into a new rhythm, allow it to flow into your soul like a holy melody–rather than trying to force it into a box you can check. Allow God’s grace to be your guide.
Rhythms of our soul ebb and flow–as God calls, seasons change, and needs arise. Our own flexibility and perseverance help us to move as the Spirit leads. Our willingness to lay down our plans and expectations allows us to sweep and swell with the Spirit. Our desire to remain devoted to our wholeness and holiness carries us into new depths as our rivers rise.
And, we’ll realize we’re abiding.
Armed and Ready
It goes without saying, however, that our enemy doesn’t want any of this rhythmic reliance on the Spirit to happen, so he empties his bag of tricks to keep our focus off Christ and our hopes dashed.
He loves the Deadly D’s: Distraction. Discouragement. Doubt. Disappointment. Division. Defeat. Destruction. Death. And the Insidious I’s: Isolation. Intimidation. Influence. But, awareness is empowerment. Knowing his tactics arms us with understanding that his ways do not have to rule our hearts and minds and spirits. We also stand assured and confident because we’ve been equipped to stand firm against his every attack (Ephesians 6:10-11). We pick up or put on:
The Sword of the Spirit–the Word of God, which goes out from us, like a sword, to dispel the enemy’s lies (week 2)
The Belt of Truth–an anchor for all the other pieces of armor that holds it together, sets us free, and keeps us centered on Christ’s truth (week 4)
The Helmet of Salvation–Jesus’ sanctification that rescues once and for all AND restores us to Him everyday (week 6)
The Breastplate of Righteousness–a repeated choice to take off the ‘old self’ and put on the ‘new self,’ as well as Christ’s holiness, each day (week 8)
The Shoes of Peace–an inner tranquility and calmness of the soul, which–all at the same time–grounds us and propels us forward (week 10)
The Shield of Faith–a faith-soaked shield that douses the enemy’s attempts to distract us; a faith blockade that trusts we aren’t alone because God is with us (week 12)
Fully armed, our whole beings are protected. Anchored in truth and shielded by faith, we can step into the fray full of peace because we know Whose we are and that He stands with us.
I once knew someone who had a recurring dream of being pummeled on a battlefield as she crouched helplessly in the nude. She would awaken every morning upset, exhausted, and confused. But as she sought the Lord, He revealed to her the truth of Ephesians 6, telling her that to enter into the world without the covering of His armor is to stand naked before her enemy. She shared this picture God had painted for her so we would know we are not defenseless against the enemy. Rather, we can stand firm against him–fully armed. Prepared with truth and peace, we are ready to deflect his lies, douse his distractions, and block his attempts to isolate and intimidate us. And, when we come alongside our sisters in Christ–filled with the Spirit–our strength in numbers makes us impenetrable.
Friends, God has been pouring out truths all summer, and we can respond with our whole being–body, mind, heart, spirit, and soul–with other believers who also desire to abide in Christ.
So, as we look ahead toward a horizon of unknowns, let us take care to bring these lessons into our futures–with Christ and with one another. Let us determine to fill every stream by engaging in healthy practices and rhythms. Let us continue in the arming of ourselves with everything God offers us so that we can enter the battlefield confident and fully covered.
Then. Then, we can share all we learn and know and experience with others so that they, too, can abide in Christ.
Lord Jesus, You are our salvation, our saving grace. Your death defeated the enemy–once and for all. Yours is the victory! So, we boldly and confidently step into the present, knowing that no matter what we face or feel or think, we can trust You and have all we need to do more than survive. We can thrive! We lay down our fear that drives us toward control and, instead, give You control from a place of faith. We resist every lie and temptation, knowing that You always give us a way out. We choose to put our eyes on You, Jesus, rather than on all the distractions that entangle and sins that hinder. We choose to surround ourselves with people who desire this way of living an abiding life in You. We choose to live in truth and from our secured place as your daughters. And, we choose to find healthy rhythms that fill our streams and deepen our rivers–so that they’ll flow freely, quenching our every thirst and offering living water to anyone who desires to drink of You, Jesus. With all that we are–with every breath and thought and feeling, with our spirits uniting with Yours and our sisters’–we seek to live in the overflow of all that You are: peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In Jesus’ name, amen.
(inspired by Psalm 27:1, John 1:17, Colossians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Hebrews 12:1-1, John 17:21, Galatians 3:26, John 7: 37-39, Galatians 5:22)
- I’m so grateful for this community and the ways you let me know how God’s truths and presence are making a difference in your life.
- Our Abide playlist continues to be a regular rhythm in my life. The lyrics speak truth over me. The melodies pull me into the spiritual rhythms that help me release my grip. And, the changes in beat that speed up and slow down remind me of my own need for various rhythms in my abiding life. How about you?
- I hope the resources in the series have met needs, inspired hearts, and challenged old habits to be made new–in Christ. I’d love to hear if you end up reading a book or podcast that speaks some truth into your life!
- I’d also love to know which practices and prayers you’ve incorporated into your daily rhythms. How have they supported, challenged, or encouraged you in your abiding life?
- Never fear–our focus on what it means to DWELL is not coming to an end. So far this year we’ve looked at how Dwell can mean to Inhabit, Remain, and Abide. Now, our next series will be purely focused on what it means to Dwell with our Good Shepherd. It feels like a restful way to enter a new season and bring our year’s focus to a close. So. Invite someone to join us–starting next Sunday! See you then. XOXO