One word can profoundly change everything.
When I rang in 2022, I was excited.
Because I had made the decision to get baptized after the Christmas decor had gone up covering the baptistery, my baptism had been scheduled for six weeks by the time that Sunday morning came. I had eagerly been anticipating the moment.
I had just finished a 14 week class where I learned for the first time how to apply Biblical truth to my life. I had purchased a prayer journal and started every morning utilizing it. I had started listening to every word of the sermon on Sundays differently. After church, I would come home and spend an hour reflecting on the Sermon, rereading the Bible, and writing my own recap of how the Holy Spirit had spoken to me through the pastor’s message. I would then share that online so it would print in the memory book I make for my daughter every year.
A few weeks later, I realized the pastor sent out the scripture for the sermon a few days prior to each service. I started pre-studying for the sermon. I read Bible commentaries. I listened to other pastors talk on similar topics.
Then our pastor left. No matter how much I replayed him reminding us that the church isn’t one man, I allowed myself to lose my rhythm. I don’t ever remember making the conscious decision to stop doing any of the aforementioned things. But at some point, I did.
Yesterday, our new senior pastor wrote one word on the board during staff meeting … “ABIDE”.
He asked us what is the ONE THING we should do to ensure we ABIDE?
I didn’t have an answer. A few people shared ideas. Eventually, to break the awkward silence in the room, I spouted something out.
It would’ve helped if I had studied up on what “abide” meant first. Unlike others in the room, God had placed the opportunity to prepare in front of me more than once as the senior pastor had brought graphic requests to my desk for upcoming projects. Our pastor had hand-drawn “abide” in a cross and in a tree, but both versions of the projects were placed in a “to-do” pile behind other projects more pressing.
The answer I gave in staff meeting wasn’t the right answer, but the right answer was the one I needed to hear.
The word “abide” is used 10 times in the first 10 verses of John 15 (ESV). I usually use the NIV version of the Bible, and there “remain” is used as a synonym for “abide”.
As we discussed “abide” as a group, the answer to the pastor’s question that rose to the top was we can abide through prayer. As we dug deeper, the better answer was through prayer, we can trust in Christ’s strength instead of relying on our own.
How often do we rely on our own strength for all the projects we do, the burdens we carry, and the answers for life’s direction?
I wish I could say my moment of conviction was as solid as some who admitted they relegated much of their prayer time to a specific moment of the day and then went on with the busyness of life.
My moment of conviction was much worse. I had stopped altogether relegating the first hour of my day to studying God’s Word and asking him to guide me.
My blog is a result of my prayer journal and Bible studies. I know if I am struggling with something, others are, too.
As I read back through my blogs, I realized every two weeks was my new pattern of turning to God. Each topic reflected the moments where I truly had to get on my knees and pray for God to reconcile a relationship, heal my heart from pride, or forgive me of my sin.
But every two weeks? GUILTY! Convicted of not abiding in Christ, but instead of abiding in self-righteousness, busyness, and the flesh.
It gets worse. As I put myself on trial before God yesterday after the meeting, I realized something else.
I’m blessed to be going through ReEngage for the third time. Last night, as a leader, I had to own the fact in front of the class that I had failed to even do my lesson. I had allowed the busyness of a 60 hour work week the last seven days and demands from multiple directions to completely void me of time with God. If I am really honest, I have even missed the last two Sundays in church. Sure, I was “there” Sunday, but I was tending to the needs behind the scenes of our facility hosting a concert instead of Worshiping and studying the Word with our congregation.
John 6:44 (NIV) has some great news Jesus shared about God, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
God draws us to Him. I didn’t have to tell God I had slowly drifted away from abiding in Him. He knew. Yesterday He used one word written on a whiteboard to draw me back … ABIDE.
So here’s to a fresh restart with a refreshed focus. Today I am going to ABIDE in God. Today I am going to do more than pray over my to-do list at 8 a.m. I am going back to praying before I start a project, that every part of it reflects His will. Today when I recognize I need a break, I am going to step into our Worship Center and pray instead of making a cup of hot cocoa. Tonight, before I go to bed, I am going to complete the ReEngage Bible Study for the week. And tomorrow, instead of sleeping for an extra hour, I am going to read and reflect on God’s WORD like I did this morning.
Because while the word “ABIDE” changed my week, there’s only one Word that can profoundly change everything. That’s the Word of God, and I need to get back in it!
John 15:1-11 (ESV)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”