In the past three and a half years, I have made seven moves. I have moved back and forth from home to school and back again. I’ve become a professional at somehow stuffing every single article of clothing, book, coffee mug, and knick-knack into my assortment of suitcases, duffle bags, and large plastic totes. Strategically packing my tiny car full of my belongings is basically a skill I could add to my resume, and I should probably get an award for being able to drive with such limited visibility out the back window of my car.
To put it simply, I’ve become pretty good at bouncing around.
And while it definitely has its challenges, it can also be pretty convenient. Just when I get tired of staying put, it’s time to move and shake it up. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me from getting bored. I have two homes full of people I love. Honestly, it’s the best of both worlds.
As I was reading through the book of John, I stumbled upon a verse that I have read many times. This time, however, it seemed to stick. It reads,
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9
I struggled with this verse when I first read it. The word abide is one of those words that I think we as Christians find ourselves using frequently, but honestly I don’t think I could give you a clear definition of what it looks like to truly abide in Jesus’ love.
So I started to do some research. First, I turned to the dictionary, naturally. (I’m a bit of an English words nerd, so for me this was the first natural step.) The dictionary defines the word abide as “to remain, continue, or stay.” Another secondary definition defined it as “to have one’s abode; dwell, or reside.”
Okay, so now that I found this basic definition, you can maybe see how I continued to struggle with this word and command to abide from my sweet Jesus. As someone who hasn’t stayed in one place for more than ten months at a time for the past four years, I wouldn’t say that abiding is at the top of my skill set.
But yet, I found myself reading this verse and mulling it over. So I continued to research.
Several months ago, I read through the book of 1 John. I flipped my Bible open to 1 John and wouldn’t you know I found all kinds of verses about abiding. The one I want to share with you is 1 John 2:28, which reads,
“And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming.” 1 John 2:28
I love this image of us as a little child, abiding in our loving Father. Slowly, the word abide started to make more sense. Abiding in Jesus doesn’t have to mean physically staying in one place.
In fact, I think it rarely means staying in one physical place.
Abiding in Jesus can mean moving every single month or moving once every ten years. It can mean serving the same group of twenty-two students in my class for the one semester I get them or it can mean serving at a congregation for twenty years. It can mean just about anything, as long as we are listening to our sweet Jesus and His call for us.
I realized that I was so caught up on the literal definition of abiding that I forgot that abiding in Jesus is different than what it means to abide in the world’s definition. I forgot that our Jesus is bigger than the four walls of a house or the lines that divide one state from another or the barriers of fear and doubt that I have put up.
Abiding simply means spiritually staying put in Jesus.
It means holding on through the good times and the bad. It means hanging on when our bodies, lives, and others in this world tempt us to run away. It means constantly living in the goodness and grace of Jesus.
The problem? I am the worst at holding on. When it’s left to me, I run at the first mention of hard times or challenges. My doubt takes over and abiding is the last thing on my mind.
The good news? Our heavenly Father is the best at holding on. When it’s left to Him, He runs straight towards our messy, doubting lives. His love takes over and pulls us into Himself.
One last verse that paints a beautiful picture of this can be found in 1 John 3:1, which reads,
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1a
He loves us with a Fatherly, no-matter-what kind of love even when we run away.
Abiding in my sweet Jesus,