Heading into the new year, our worship team was encouraged to write down some thoughts on our renewed focus for the year ahead. What is God putting on or planting in our heart in 2017? After thinking and praying, I felt like God was simply giving me one word: abide. It seemed too easy — maybe I missed the rest of what he was trying to say? Maybe I needed to wait longer to receive more insight? Surely God had more planned for me than to just merely abide, right? Struggling through these questions led me to John 15.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
John 15:1-9 (NIV)
Phrases like “If you remain in me and I in you,” “Now remain in my love,” and “No branch can bear fruit by itself” stood out to me. The meaning of “abide” was becoming much clearer. It’s a call to remain in Jesus and seek him as my primary source of strength, wisdom, and identity. Without him, I can do nothing. The passage even says, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers.”
It’s so much easier to look back and realize God’s faithfulness once a storm has passed. The majority of 2016 was dark for me: self-doubt, moments of anxiety, false identity, the list goes on and on. God lifted me out of that darkness. But in that season, I remember coming to the realization that even if I lost everything, I would still have one thing: God. Decades from now, that will still be the case. A lot will change in the next 10, 20, even 30 years: I probably won’t fit into the same clothes, I may not sing as well, I might have different hobbies and a different home, but I will always be a child of God.
This is my prayer for you and for me.
Jesus, you are good. May we abide in you through the storms of life and on the days when all is clear. May we be reminded that what we have in you is enough when everything else fails. May we be confident that you will carry us when we don’t feel you close, when people let us down, when we are overwhelmed with work, or when insecurity rears its ugly head. We know we can’t conquer anything on our own. Thank you for supplying us with strength when our strength is gone. May we always remain in you, our source for everything we need. Amen.
This post was originally published on the Saddleback Worship blog.