Abiding: What? It’s Not All About Me?
I’m delighted with our Navigator emphasis on abiding in Jesus. I can’t think of anything that I would rather see placed first in our personal and organizational priorities. The articles and videos in NavWeekly have been wonderfully helpful and uplifting.
As we think of the tremendous privilege of living in Christ, I want to suggest a parallel truth, one that serves as an anchor for my soul. It’s a truth from which abiding flows and with which it is intertwined. Abiding is, as we know, not a standalone. It’s a natural outworking of God’s deep and eternal work within our hearts.
Though not a perfect analogy, consider marriage. I am married both by legal agreement, a covenant of sorts, and I am married because of the rich, personal relationship I have with my spouse. We need both in order to make the most intimate of all earthly relationships work over time.
Think of the people with whom you’ve had a close relationship—and then lost it. Why? You or they became too busy, interested in other things, moved, . . . You had a great relationship, but you were not legally connected. Thankfully, in marriage we have both a covenantal and a relational connection. The same is true of our relationship with God.
Consider Ephesians 1. We need only to skim this amazing passage to see that God blessed us, chose us, made us blameless, predestined us, adopted us, redeemed us, forgave us, lavished His grace upon us, gave us an everlasting inheritance, and guaranteed our salvation by sealing His promise with the Holy Spirit. God has “locked down” this relationship. This wonderful God-connection is not only relational, but also covenantal; one that was initiated by God Himself. He made me His own. That will never change. I’m His child. He is forever mine. He’s not going away.
This truth grips me. It holds me fast. It serves as an anchor for my soul. As I allow it to seep into the depths of my being, I am assured that I belong to the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the King of all creation! By freely spilling His precious blood, Jesus created a perfect space where I can abide now and forever. He draws me to Himself. He calls me by name. He reminds me that I am His. He invites me into His presence.
When I don’t see God at work, when I don’t feel His presence or have any sense of abiding, when I don’t see my prayers answered, I can come back to this marvelous truth. It’s not about me. It’s all about God and what He has chosen to do in me and through me. Had God not done His unfathomably deep work on the cross and within my heart, I would have no basis or interest in abiding in Jesus. In fact, I would be running the other direction. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Why would I ever think that the abiding relationship is all about me? Isn’t that in itself an indicator that my carnal brain is in need of further renewal?
Jean Fleming put this together so powerfully and concisely in a NavWeekly video: “The power of the abiding relationship is not my abiding in Him, but Him abiding in me. . . . My part is just to stay connected and to remember with joy that I didn’t choose Him. He chose me and appointed me, that I should go and bear fruit—fruit that comes from His life, not mine.” Amen!