Learning What It Means to Abide

By Alisha Justice on March 21, 2018

Abide. Wow, what a good word.

That’s what I thought when I saw it on a license plate. I sort of felt a nudge inside say, ”This is for you.” That was a few months ago, so I’ve sat on this word. It’s came to my mind a few times, but I didn’t take the time to dig into it until now.

Honestly, I was hoping for a definition like “trust” or “rest” or “to have peace with God.” I was hoping for a definition that was easy. But everything I searched brought me to John 15; the vine and the branches, to pruning and bearing fruit.

I’m not sure why it surprised me. I know these verses very well. I even feel like this has been a theme with our family for the past two years: pruning; the stripping away of idols, pride, anger, and selfish ambition, and learning to place our identity in God as His beloved children.

It only seems fitting that He would take us even deeper into this season of pruning, and ask that we remain—remain attached to the vine, remain in dependence on Him, remain being transformed by Him, remain in Bundibugyo for this season, remain in love, in trust, and in surrender to Him.

To be a vessel [branch] that cannot exist without Christ’s love and word pumping through our veins daily sustaining us.

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. 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. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15: 4-9)

One article I read said there are three implied principles to abiding:

  1. Connection: to be united to Him.
  2. Dependence: to rely on Him.
  3. Continuance: to remain in Him.

Each of these three principles are not steps to take, but three interwoven aspects of abiding. We must be connected to God, dependent on God, and remain in God.

So often I get it all wrong. I let abiding turn into striving—trying harder, doing better… Or I let abiding turn into enduring—trying to bear the load by myself, without help or patience.

That is not what Jesus calls us to do. He doesn’t say, “Bear the load—carry it by yourself.” He says, “Let me carry your load, come to me.” He doesn’t say, “Try harder.” He says, “I love you and there is nothing you can do to make me love you more than I already do.”

I forget to depend on Him, and I forget that I am connected to Him. I try to manage things on my own, instead of remaining in Him. And so His grace and mercy leads me back into His word, His love, and His arms.

May you abide in Him and in His love also.

Alisha Justice

About Alisha Justice

Alisha is a registered dietitian and leads the BundiNutrition program and works in the health center to treat severe acute malnutrition. She and her husband Brent serve with Serge in Uganda.