The Joy of Abiding
by Kat Dryden
“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. 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. … These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
I’m in the stage of life where all of my friends are having babies. As an “outsider looking in” on this stage, I’m constantly struck by how helpless infants truly are. They are glued to their parents, dependent on them for their every need. In addition to their dependence, babies, as we all know, aren’t the best communicators. They cannot tell you what they need or why they are uncomfortable; they simply cry out, hopeful that their adoring parents come to the rescue. And yet, slowly and subtly, you witness babies grow. They learn from their parents’ example and gradually pick up some tricks that help them become better communicators and more productive tiny humans. Babies lean wholly on their parents and glean from their examples, which in turn helps them become the people that God intended them to be.
Babies actually show us a beautiful picture of an abiding relationship with Christ. As little ones in the world constantly lean on their parents’ sturdy care, we too must be so dependent on God. We should look to Him in all we do; we should learn and grow from Jesus’ example in the Word; we should be quick to cry out to Him in moments of desperation. Like young infants, we must face the truth that apart from God, we can do nothing.
We know we need a dependent relationship with the Lord, but often we rebel against that idea, choosing self-sufficiency over reliance. Practically, this may look like: feeling too busy to spend time in prayer or God’s Word; going to God as a last resort when troubles arise; not stopping to talk to God about big life decisions. There are myriads of ways we choose self-sufficiency in our daily lives, but as believers, we must acknowledge the pride and foolishness in going that route. In the end, self-sufficiency will always fail us. But an even greater consequence, I would argue, is what we would miss out on by forsaking an abiding, dependent relationship with Christ: full joy.
Rankin Wilbourne wrote in his book “Union With Christ”: “It is a beautiful dance: our highest joy is found in God’s glory, and God is most glorified in us when we find our highest joy in him.”
When we abide with our Heavenly Father, we are reminded of His supreme glory, which is necessary to see Him, those around us, and ourselves as we ought. As we lean on His power and grow from Jesus’ example, we will find ultimate joy in His glory, and in turn, glorify Him through that joy.
Abiding is one of the greatest gifts we have as believers. Don’t let self-reliance keep you from the abundant joy that is promised through a thriving relationship with Him.