1John 4:16 (NKJ)
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
How do I know if I am truly abiding in God? Is it measured by what I say, how much I know or how much I do? Is my abiding measured by my own opinion or the opinion of others? Is it measured by how hard I work for Him or how deeply I was abiding yesterday, last month or last year? Apparently not.
The verse above says we abide in God, and He in us, as we abide in love. Why? Because God is Love. What does God-Love look like in real life? You know…with my coworkers, family members, friends and enemies? Do I really, really want to know?! Well, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 says this about love: it never gives up, cares more for others than for self, doesn’t want what it doesn’t have, doesn’t strut or have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle or keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel but takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back but keeps going to the end (the message).
Abiding: lasting a long time; enduring. Synonyms: constant, lasting, steady.
If I am “steady” or “constant” in God, then my life will look increasingly like 1Corinthians 13. And when my life, especially my at-home life, looks less like 1Corinthians 13 then I am unsteady in God. I am not writing about steadiness in my salvation. I know Salvation was complete in my life when I believed in my heart and confessed with my mouth that Jesus is God’s Son and asked Him into my life. Today, I write about abiding or walking in His Spirit and not in my selfish nature, or “flesh,” as the Bible calls it. The daily experience of knowing Jesus and having that experience change me, help me, sustain me, grow me. The beautiful and incomparable richness of living steady and stable.
Lately my life has looked less like 1Corinthians 13. Just an honest fact. I hate that. It disappoints and frustrates me! A couple of loving and well-meaning friends and family members have encouraged me that God’s grace is all over it. I just had a baby…I have two other children to care for…I am sleep deprived and hormonal. True. And I know Romans chapter 8 says there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, so again I know Jesus loves me. I am God’s child. It’s just I feel more like a temper-tantrum throwing child these days…a fickle child…a self-absorbed child…an overly sensitive child! I understand the factors that contribute, but in my heart of hearts I decided a couple of years ago to be real with myself and others. So, I know my own thoughts. I know the deepest places of my own heart. And I know that my waning steadiness…my inconsistancies…are really symptomatic of less abiding and more hiding.
See, we all can name our extenuating circumstances. The reasons why we let truly abiding in God be replaced with the things of life that seem worthwhile but do not require the crucifying of our flesh. As a precious friend shared with me recently, we can have the bumper sticker, the Bible, the prayer journal, the church attendance, the Bible-study group and all of the accessories for our Christian life but if we don’t let God “stir it up” and mix it into our every day, abiding moments then we live less like Love and more like an attempt at Love (or worse a blog post about it!).
I don’t really think abiding in God and living in Love is supposed to be so complicated (perhaps I find comfort in the idea of its complexity when I’m not doing it?) I believe abiding in my Savior, my Creator, my Best Friend is a response of my heart…a surrender…a drawing near…that can fill me and envelop me, can turn me into a walking, talking 1Corinthians chapter 13 for those around me to read when it works itself into obedient living.
God is compassionate. He is Grace. Kindness. He isn’t setting out an obstacle course for us to run through to know Him. I do believe God knows our season and we can trust that He knows just the right way to lead us into abiding love if we will just follow. Jesus is my medicine. I find it humbling to once again remember so acutely how I can do nothing well apart from Him. I will not be the mother, friend, wife or servant I am meant to be without my daily dose. And truthfully, that can be hard to take when we like to feel we are so capable or we grow comfortable in our “I’ve come a long ways” mentality and we can still say the right things and quote the right scriptures.
If I am abiding (steady, constant, stable) in God then my life looks like Love. Not perfection, but an ever-increasing measure of His Supernatural Love evident in my motives, my words, my attitudes, my choices, my time. It sounds like a lot of work, and true surrender can be excruciating initially, but then it becomes addictive. This Love so freeing and filling. This Abiding…This knowing and believing the Love He has for us. Constant. Lasting. Steady.