As I took the dog for a quick walk the other day, I spent some time praying and contemplating what my focus should be for this month. And as I did so, a most frequent word in my study of 1 John came to mind:
And this was my answer – to learn to practice daily abiding.
First John is filled with this word – “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (2:6); “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling” (2:10); “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you […] then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father” (2:24); “And now, little children, abide in him” (2:28).
But what does it actually look like? What does it mean to abide?
In John MacArthur’s commentary on the verse, he says, “Abiding signifies a permanent remaining in Christ and guarantees the believer’s hope. Those who truly abide continue in the faith and in fellowship with the saints.”
But he also says, “In contrast to verse 27, however, he commands believers to abide. The command signals that abiding is not passive; continual, active abiding must be pursued by every genuine believer.”
As I listened to Pastor Jerod Gilcher preach on this, he said, “If you abide in Christ – if your life is inseparably intertwined with his – to some measure and degree, your life will resemble him […] What [abiding] looks like is a ferocious, kung-fu dependence on Christ through his Word. That is the relationship that is abiding.”
He also said, “Saturate your soul in the very Scripture that the Holy Spirit inspired.”
Abiding has the connotation of continuing, staying, being faithful to, returning to a secret place, and living in. Therefore, I took all of this, and whittled it down to a daily practice that deepens my relationship with my Savior.
I start by taking a verse or a part of a verse from my study, and I meditate on it, thinking through all aspects of it and digesting it bit by bit.
Then I dwell on an aspect of God and his character revealed through the verse and respond to him in worshipful prayer and adoration. I ask that he might instill that same character in me so that I might reflect him to others. And at the same time, I ask for proper perspective on the current moment of my life based on the truth of God’s Word and what it says about him. I seek to let go of my own sin and [attempted] control over my life and surrender to what Christ is doing in me.
Abiding should be intentional.
Abiding should lift my eyes heavenward as I’m involved with daily life choices.
Abiding should be consistent.
Abiding should be a private retreat between me and God.
Abiding should be a swim in the deep lake that is God’s Word.
Abiding happens in many other ways besides taking a few moments each day to consciously think through it. It also happens through daily devotions of reading God’s Word and praying. It happens through a commitment to church and fellowship with other believers. It happens by choosing to believe the truth of God’s Word instead of the lies of the culture.
But by choosing several deliberate moments of it each day in meditation and prayer, I’m attempting to make it a deeper concept in my heart that I can continue to embrace throughout my life.
And what if I look at the month ahead, and I say, “No, it’s too busy. I don’t have time to practice abiding”?
All the more reason why I should practice it. Because if I don’t practice abiding in the midst of this season, when will I ever? And don’t I need it to ground me in stability and truth when the rest of life is busy and stressful? Don’t I need an oasis of comfort and joy and hope?
Practicing abiding means becoming aware of God’s presence in every moment of life – to see every moment as holy (as this book of daily liturgies recommended by our pastor reminds us). It means to give him praise in the mundane, the frustrating, the joyful, and the routine. It means seeking to see his beauty illuminated by his Word more deeply. It means that I surrender my thoughts to him and allow him to guide and govern my life.
So as I begin this journey of conscious, purposeful abiding this month, I pray that I might understand it on a deeper level, and that it might show me Christ more clearly. Maybe you might consider joining me.