Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Ultimate If/Then

One time two and a half years ago, when I was feeling lonely & tired & stretched pretty thin, my friend (let's call him Mufasa) encouraged me in an email with, "Rest in Jesus."

I read his words and replied, "I don't know how to rest in Jesus."

It's been two and a half years, and I think I finally understand.

At least, maybe a little.

I've always liked the verse that says, "Abide in me, and I will abide in you" (John 15:4). Well, that's what I want, to abide in Jesus. And if abiding in Jesus means He then abides in me, that sounds like the best option out there.

But how the heck do you abide in Jesus?

I've always wanted it to be some sort of feeling, some sort of achievement. Like, hello, I'm abiding in Jesus, can't you see me floating around instead of walking? When someone tells me, "Rest in Jesus," or when Jesus tells me, "Abide in Me," I want to be able to take a deep breath, and, by the time I breathe out, to feel safe & secure & at peace.

It's like when you're about to take a trip and someone tells you, "Be safe." Or when you're really upset and someone tells you, "Calm down." Well, yes. Those are the results I would like to achieve: safety and calmness. But simply saying those words over me isn't going to magically make me safe or make me calm. This isn't Harry Potter, and you can't make me feel okay by pointing a stick at me and saying "feelicus okaytio."

So this morning is when I realized that Jesus' "abide in Me/abide in you" statement is an if/then, and here's what it means, when you break it down (& use visuals). Simply replace the underlined with any mix of words below it:

If I abide in Jesus, then I will have Jesus abiding in me.
memorize                                                         peace
pray                                                             joy
meditate                                                    a defense
remember                                                      confidence
sing                                                              refuge
praise                                                        understanding
etc.                                                                & more!

You know when you're lying in bed, and you have the thought, "Ugh, I will never get married," you counter it by thinking, "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me (Ps. 138:8)," and that's abiding in Jesus. Or when you tape a Bible verse to your dashboard so that whenever you get into your car, you see, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer (2 Sam. 22:2)," you're abiding in Jesus. Or when you are getting [justifiably!] annoyed or angry, & instead of commiserating with yourself or someone else, you choose to pray, "Holy Spirit, breathe into my attitude and change me to think more like you," you are SO TOTALLY abiding in Jesus! And when you don't feel at all like singing the same worship song about running into Jesus' arms, because you don't feel at all like the riches of His love will always be enough, but you sing it anyway, that is most especially abiding in Jesus.

So then, you know that moment when nothing has changed - the situation's still shaky, the relationship is still broken, the forecast is still cloudy - yet you have this unexplainable just knowing that everything's going to be okay (even when all fingers point at you & say, "You should be worrying")? That's Jesus abiding in you. Or when you feel compassion toward someone whose suffering you never noticed before, or feel interest in a people group you used to disdain, or feel love for someone you know absolutely nothing about, well, my friend, that's Jesus abiding in you. And when, in the middle of singing that worship song that you don't feel like singing, you suddenly feel very much like running into the arms of Jesus and that His love is so rich that you're not even tasting the amount of a teacup, JESUS is ABIDING in YOU.

True story.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things [abide in Jesus]. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice [abide in Jesus]. And the God of peace will be with you [Jesus will abide in you!!]. (Philippians 4:8-9 [over-excited exclamation points mine]) in Jesus. Thanks, Mufasa. I think I will.

(For more motivation in this, I recommend reading Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge, &/or listening to this 10/31/11 sermon from the Vineyard called "Strong Training.")


Sarah said...

Thank you for this.

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