John 15:4 · Spirituality

Abiding

Abide. It’s an old-fashioned word, not one we use regularly. “How are you abiding today?” “Come abide with me awhile.” Haven’t said that lately.

In my devotional the other day, I read this well-known verse about the necessity of being connected to God:

“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.” (John 15:4, NIV)

This is one of Jesus’s key sayings, but I have a problem with the verb remain. It makes me think of being left somewhere. “I’ll remain here while you go over there.” Remainders are the leftovers, what is left when we are finished with the main course. Remain feels passive and lonely.

So for this verse, I love the KJV translation:

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

Looking past the ye’s is that word Abide. Abide in me. The Greek word meno has an underlying idea of a continuing relationship, one that is permanent. One translation is ‘being at home’. (https://studybible.info/strongs/G3306). Staying where we are. Just being. Relaxing like we do when we’re with someone who knows us and loves us despite our flaws.

Meno is used many times in the NT, including describing the Holy Spirit coming to be with us:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 14:6, KJV)

So God has sent us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to stay with us, to move in, to live with us forever. I have to remind myself that the Holy Spirit is there always. I’m the one who has to say hello and open myself up to listening. I need to enter that abiding space.

Working in my flowers on a summer morning is one of the best places I know to abide. I spent yesterday cleaning out a flower bed and abiding in the Lord. Pulling weeds and making room to plant some vegetables was therapeutic.

Author Sue Monk Kidd describes how solitude opens up her spirit in her devotional book, Firelight:

Solitude brings me back to a simplicity of spirit, an inner poverty that I need in order to clear room inside. It allows me to empty myself out, so there is gracious space within where I can receive myself, then God and eventually others. (p. 88)

As I got rid of the clutter in my flower bed, I felt His presence with me in a companionable way. I imagined clearing out my soul to create an empty space for God to come into that gracious space Sue Monk Kidd mentions.  I felt the connection I’ve neglected return so that I was abiding again in the Holy Spirit.

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