If I visit a place for a while and then leave, I am not abiding, I am visiting.
- Dr. Joe McKeever
“Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4).
Resolve … resolution.
Revolve … revolution.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:7).
A pastor I know asks the Lord for a one-word theme for his church each year. One time it was “one,” referring to unity, and another year it was “missions.”
The word the Lord has given me for the year 2016 is “abide.” Or, to say it another way, I feel “called” to abide in Him this year as never before.
My threefold goal for this year can be stated: “I will abide in Christ; I will let His word abide in me; and I will abide in the moment.”
The title of this blog, “New Year’s Revolution,” is a little play on words. The 1896 hymn “I Am Resolved” by Palmer Hartsough could be made to read:
I am revolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight.
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
Revolving implies turning around, and that’s what I am doing. Turning around implies repentance, and I’m doing that also.
Think of it as a mid-course correction, the kind you and I are always making. Our Lord said, “Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). So, think of this as a pruning, a further refining as I try to bring all of Joe under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
I resolve no longer to abide in my flesh but in Him; no longer to have everyone else’s words filling my mind, but His; no longer to spread my attention out over days and months but to abide in the moment.
Abide. A verb for which abode is the noun. We abide in an abode (therefore, we could say Christ will be my Abode). Abide means something enduring, lasting, persisting, steadfast, and constant.
If I visit a place for a while and then leave, I am not abiding, I am visiting. If I take a temporary lease on a dwelling with an expiration date, I do not abide there but am a renter.
If I abide in Christ, I stay. I have come to settle down here and never leave. My plans have no expiration date, no “sell by” date. I am here for the duration.
Only those who abide in Christ will have staying power. As in the parable of the soils found in Matthew 13, I will not desert the Lord due to tribulation or persecution (13:21) nor due to the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches (13:22).
I will last.
1. I will abide in Christ.
To remain and continue in Jesus means to settle down here, and to rest in Him. Doing this will require me to bring myself to Him at the start of each new day and to lay myself on the altar.
2. I will let His words abide in me.
It occurred to me recently that New Testament believers did not read their Bibles every day. They couldn’t since few if any owned personal copies of Scripture. God’s word was found on parchment and papyrus scrolls, and was owned only in synagogues or by a privileged few. Therefore, they listened intently when scriptures were read and made every attempt to remember them. Then, as they walked and talked, as they rose up and as they lay down (Deuteronomy 6:7), they called up those texts and recited them and talked of them.
I will do that.
3. I will therefore, abiDde in the moment.
To abide “in the moment” means I will not give divided attention to what I’m doing at any given time. I will be fully present.
This is hard. For example, on New Year’s Day 2016 I put on Facebook what I was doing: “Washing clothes, studying the Bible, reading a western novel and a book on Churchill, preparing to have lunch at my son’s house, and out the corner of my eye keeping up with the football bowl games.” And that’s the problem. It’s called multitasking, and it’s the bane of our time.
Wives speak to husbands who are distracted and who pick up only half of what they say. Today, as I was speaking to a granddaughter, she was texting on her phone. At one point, I stopped and said, “What did I say?” She repeated it back fairly well. This generation is adept at doing numerous things simultaneously, even if not very well.
I will be fully present.
My problem is that sometimes my calendar gets overloaded, and I find myself becoming fatigued in advance. I call this anticipatory fatigue, and it’s self-defeating. On days recently when I ended up doing a lot of things that had been unscheduled, but which popped up and presented themselves, at the end of a long difficult day, I was still fresh. But had I known in advance the day would involve driving hundreds of miles and doing all that I had, I would not have slept the night before and been tired before the day began.
A resolution is one thing. A revolution – actually doing it – is something else entirely.
Abiding is not a resolution that can be broken. Rather, it’s a determination to change my way of life, and that will be an ongoing project.
I expect never to come to the end of a day and decide I fulfilled this perfectly. I will “press toward the mark,” as Paul put it.
In doing this, I will need all the help of the Helper I can get. I will pray the words found in a beloved hymn...
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Thou who changest not, abide with me.
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.