“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:7-8)
Personally, I believe that if you take time to really savor the experience of abiding in Jesus Christ, it will alleviate many of the lesser ills that plague the soul. This theme is mentioned ten times in ten verses in John 15. In abiding, spiritual fruit multiplies, prayers are answered, God is glorified and much much more. In its essence, abiding is the hope of grace. The word “abide” in Greek is meno, which means, “to stay in a given place, state, relation; to continue, be present, remain.” Basically, the encouragement is to keep one’s continual attentive connection to the Source of our life-Jesus.
As a pastor, it has always been my passion that God’s people would find their source and purpose in life in being Christ-centered. Over the years I have encouraged people to be active in their church, to serve God’s Kingdom purposes, to share their faith and to grow in the means of grace. Yet, in these pursuits I hope they do not fall into the routines of obligatory faith, empty-works, guilt-seeded duties of legalism. But on the other hand, I would like to caution you to not grow idle in grace whereby you settle into the comfortable place of being a spectator of Christ’s work, watching from afar, never engaging fully your calling. God calls us to be a light and witness to Him and to the people Jesus brings before us every day. To ignore the Great Commission and the Great Commandment is to ignore Jesus’ passion. When we live in God’s sweet spot, the beauty of the abiding life will overflow all that we are and all that we do. When we find ourselves overly busy with the routines of life, we will slowly grow dry and parched bearing the harvest of discontent, conflict, dissatisfaction and a multitude of bitter tasting fruit. But on the other hand, if we align our heart with the burdens of religious rituals and tradition we will expunge Christ right out of Christianity. It is the balanced fulcrum of abiding that Jesus bids us to flourish within that escapes these other diluted allurements. Pause for a moment before reading on and ask God to speak to your heart. Are you in an abiding relationship with Jesus? Are you experiencing the richness of the faith that He has for you? Are you abounding in the fruit of a rich faith that is saturated in the things of Christ? Are you passionate about Jesus?
Recently I experienced one of those gorgeous sunny San Diego days where we have summer in February. On this day, I watched my granddaughter successfully learn to ride her two-wheel bike at La Jolla Shores. On the same day, I had the honor of presiding over the memorial service for a dear Christian woman who was married to her surgeon husband and lover for sixty-four years. This is life – the joys, the sorrows and everything imaginable in-between. And Jesus wants to be with us in the midst of it all. He longs that we discover Him in the ordinary and even the mundane. He waits for us to commune with Him in the everyday, common routines of life. It is the renewing of the mind in Romans 12:1-2 that perhaps aligns with this marinating faith as well. And all of this brings me to the delight of a new word that I’ve been introduced to of late. It is the word quotidian from Kathleen Norris’ reflections entitled The Quotidian Mysteries. The word itself simply means “everyday, mundane, routine, usual, ordinary, commonplace.” It is a concept that describes probably 80% of our human existence. However, when sparked by the majesty of Christ, our daily routines can ignite into a flame of passion and purpose. I’m borrowing some of Kathleen Norris’ metaphors here so I’ll give credit to where credit is due. But think for a moment about the mundane chores of house care – sweeping, vacuuming, cleaning, gardening, polishing, and dusting ad infinitum. Most of us are a bit allergic to emptying the dishwasher or leaning over the sink to wash the dinner dishes. But on the other hand, if you watch children play at these very same tasks you get a glimpse into the delights of life. Fill the sink with soapsuds, cups, plates and bowls and they will enjoy the task at hand. The quotidian things of life can become the “temple of holy leisure” as God invites us to play and experience His presence as we soak in His love and hear His whispers. These experiences become our manna of the day, our daily bread. It is only good for the moment, as tomorrow it will spoil. Of manna Moses recorded, “So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had not lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need. And Moses said, ‘Let no one leave any of it till morning.’” (Exodus 16:18-19) In a similar way, God bids us to walk with Him throughout each day’s experiences, gleaning the orchards of the ordinary as it blossoms the soul. Sadly while wandering in the wilderness, God’s people eventually took the daily provision of manna for granted. Similarly, we too can miss the Lord’s nourishment amongst the quotidian moments throughout each day.
My encouragement for you today is to return to that childlike faith of savoring each day’s routines as an opportunity to experience God’s joys as you abide in Christ’s presence. Don’t miss His playful voice amongst the deafening sound of life’s clutter. Stay connected to the Vine throughout each day’s mundane experiences, and what is ordinary will be transformed into the extraordinary. And when I’m old and all wrinkled over and you see me sitting alone overcome with a smile and a chuckle, know this, I’m not senile, I’m just enjoying God’s voice in the moment as I play in the suds of the quotidian.