Due to the virus issue, my wife and I were recently stranded in Scotland for nearly four months. We did not know what was happening, but God knew full well what He was doing and certainly nothing comes as a surprise to Him. What we learnt these four months was that man plans his ways, but God directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9). It is not wrong to plan ahead, but we seem to need an increasing flexibility to leave the outcome with God.
God seemed to say continuously for three months, “Abide in me.” In my quiet time He kept reminding me of John 15. When I was reading books, I kept stumbling across John 15. When I was studying the Bible, I kept coming across it or similar passages. There are seasons in my life when a certain theme seems to follow me all the time, from dawn to dusk.
It was a tremendous blessing to be wooed by God Himself into His presence and to be invited to abide in that place and to practise His presence (as brother Lawrence once so eloquently expressed it). God is answering my prayers of long ago, when it was my earnest desire (and still is) to grow in an intimate relationship with Him, like Moses. God spoke with Moses face to face, as with a friend, in the tent of meeting.
Yet, it is not always easy to abide, nor does it come naturally. It seems to take an ongoing conscious decision, if not effort. I do not like to call it effort so much, because that sounds as if it is hard work. But it takes our initiative and our time to stay in any relationship. I remember the time I was courting my future wife to be.
Nothing seemed to be a burden or was too tiring. It was light and easy. It was joyful and fulfilling. I think this is why Jesus tells us to come back to our first love, where everything was effortless. Sometimes I advise people that, if their daily quiet time with God has become a chore or a burden, to stop for a while and ask God to restore that longing to be with Him and that deep hunger and thirst to abide in Him.
By grace Jesus invited us to come to Him and to find rest in Him. By grace He invites us to abide in Him. He gave His life so that we are able to abide in Him and grow even deeper in our intimacy with Him. As it was Jesus who drew us when He said, “Come”, so it is Jesus who keeps us when He says, “Abide”.
The grace to come and the grace to stay are both from Him alone. He drew us because He loved us, and He keeps us because He loves us. Our place is in His loving and everlasting arms, that place King David found and expressed so well in Psalm 131. Because He has invited us to come and to stay, we can fully trust Him to continue the good work He started in us and to bring it to completion. Because He has done everything for us, we can respond with all of our heart, “Yes Lord, in You I can and will abide”.
Prayer: Jesus, help me abide in You and increase my longing, hunger and thirst to be close with You. Amen.
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