Abide in me, and I in you.
There are many lessons in John 15, as is the case in all of Jesus’ teaching. Something came to me in such a profound way today from it. It was something I’ve been struggling with for several months now. I felt I had a really good understanding of what the Lord was trying to teach me, yet there seemed to be something missing. Like I wasn’t quite done with it yet. Today…I got it, and I wanted to share it with you, because that’s what I do. I want everyone to know how good our God is, and I know there is someone somewhere who can relate to my experience. So…let me back up just a bit.
The house we built, and had lived in for the past 14 years, was on the market for sale.
We planned to live in a mobile home for a few years on some land we have and then build another home there. It is an older mobile home, very small, and basically being totally gutted for remodel.
Major downsizing going on, and while we were glad to be doing it for many reasons, for just as many reasons…it was hard.
Before the remodel was ready, our house sold. So, we packed up, threw away, donated, forced our children to take custody of, sold, moved, and/or stored everything we owned.
We have some wonderful friends who were gracious enough to let us stay in their little fishing cabin down by the river (no…I’m not making that up, although it does sound like a country song). I LOVE the water. I am sure I was meant to live on it somewhere. The fact that the river was in the backyard of the cabin, was very appealing to me. That was February. When the rains came in late April, two months later, we were forced to take up residence elsewhere.
Now, I have to admit something to you. I knew if we moved to that cabin, it was going to flood.
I mean, I knew it was going to flood…didn’t matter if we moved in or not.
I get these “feelings”, like a sixth sense. I like to call it…JESUS. He talks to me. No, I’m not crazy, and no, I don’t just have bad feelings about everything or think the worse is going to happen. I’m a very positive person. Ask anybody.
But, the cabin is susceptible to flooding. Our friends have owned it about 4 years. It had flooded twice during that time. Not every year, obviously, but it does happen. My husband felt pretty confident that nothing would happen. It had just flooded, for the second time, a year ago. He figured there would be at least two years between rains that heavy.
His logic didn’t help me any. As much as I was looking forward to being there, I felt sure it was going to flood, logic or not. Only, I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t share how confident I was about what was going to happen. I mentioned it a couple of times, jokingly, when my husband made fun of me for immediately hanging things on the walls. This wasn’t a permanent home, and he thought it was a waste of time. I wasn’t trying to make it “homey” – although it was a nice touch to have some of our things taking up residence – I was trying to protect the things we had brought with us. If the pictures were hanging on the walls, I felt like they were safe from flood waters, whereas, if they were stacked up together leaning against a wall…well, you know.
The spring rains came, and the first heavy onslaught brought the river inches from the back of the cabin.
We both submitted to whatever the will of God was. If we lost what we had left…we lost it. So be it. We prayed and talked and sought refuge in the Lord. Even at that, there were a few anxious hours and one sleepless night where we wondered if we were going to be floating down the river on our mattress.
Through it all, we both were totally accepting of the possibility of our loss. I just walked around saying, “This world is not my home, Lord,” over and over and over. We had been on a journey of spiritual enlightenment and discovery for about a year and a half at that point, and we were learning how to let go of worldly and material things. We were understanding our purpose more clearly than we ever had before, and we were both growing closer and closer in our relationships with the Lord. So, we thought we were ready to face anything.
Just a few days later, the weather forecasts were calling for several more days of rain – 8-10 inches in some areas of the county in which we live. The ground was already saturated, and the creeks and rivers were heavily swollen.
The foundation of the cabin is about 5 feet high in the back, nearest the river. So, even when the water does get to the foundation, it still has to rise 5 feet to get in the house.
We weren’t sure what to do.
The conditions seemed like there was little hope flood waters wouldn’t reach the house. Yet, we had placed our faith in God just the weekend before and all was well.
Were we being weak?
Did we doubt God?
Was He testing us?
Where would we go? I mean, how many friends do you think I have that own an extra home we can just move into and live?
There was so much uncertainty. I felt like I had surrendered to ‘this world is not my home’ and ‘put God before everything else in life’. I really kind of felt like someone had just put me in a blender and hit the “pulverize” button. I was praying and seeking an answer, and I’m fully versed in God’s timing…not mine, yet I had no idea what to do and I just felt numb.
When the local emergency management agency publicized their predictions, my husband decided we would just put everything in storage and stay on our land in an RV he was going to borrow. That was fine with me. He went to check it out.
The rain would start in about 24 hours.
Just a bit later, he called and asked me to meet him in town. The RV hadn’t worked out, but he had a lead on a little rent house a friend of his owns that happened to be unoccupied. Cute little house, a little bigger then the cabin, and in a fairly quiet part of town. The house would be closer to church and closer to work for me. It wasn’t ready for renters. His friend was doing some renovations, but we could work around that.
So, we had a place to go. All was well…or was it?
Somehow, when we got back to the cabin…doubt, uncertainty, maybe fear, was there again. There just seemed to be no peace in any decision.
I had taken off work for the next day in anticipation of moving or something in preparation for flood waters, and to attend a funeral during the morning.
By the time I was leaving for the funeral the next morning, I still hadn’t felt in my bones what I was waiting to feel…wanting to feel. My husband was unable to reach the first three people he called to help us move. He began to think we should just wait it out. We could stack things up and use the counter tops if the water actually came in the house.
It was all very frustrating, and I could see it was wearing on him. I told him we would do whatever he felt like we should do. I assured him that he and I could move by ourselves if we needed to, that he didn’t need to worry. I said, “You and I aren’t planning a funeral today. This is nothing. We can do this.” All we needed was each other and the Lord.
I hoped when I returned from the funeral, he would be in better spirits.
I received a very important message before I got to the funeral home. It was so clear, and so absolute. There was no denying it was the voice of the Lord. He was speaking to me.
In a very clear voice, He said, “I gave you a place to go…now go.”
I knew immediately, He meant for us to move. There was no doubt about it. He gave us that place in town and we were to move there.
I called my husband as fast as I could and told him what had happened.
While I was at the funeral, he was able to reach our three children. They all came and we moved faster than anyone has ever moved before. At one point, our oldest daughter, Dayton, said, “Mom, I’m so nervous.” I thought she was afraid the rain was about to start and I knew we had until evening hours, so I asked her, “Why?” “Because, it’s like ya’ll are in the Witness Protection Program and we have to hurry up and move you cause the mob has found you!” We had a good laugh at that.
We had to leave everything that was hanging on the walls. My husband and I were going to return to the cabin early the next morning and finish up, hopefully before the flooding started.
High flooding began in the middle of the night. All roads in and out of town were closed.
We were safe on high ground in the new house, but we worried about how high the water was at the cabin.
The next day we discovered the water had gotten up to a foot high all throughout the cabin. There was mud and water everywhere. The stuff on the walls was safe, and we had definitely made the right decision to move.
Two days after the move, I was unpacking a box that had a daily devotional flip book in it that was given to us by a lovely couple we go to church with. In all the craziness the previous 6 or 7 days had bestowed upon us, I hadn’t kept up with the daily readings. I flipped over to the devotional for the day of the flood, April 28, the day that had begun with such turmoil and indecision. Here is what it said,
As you look into the day that stretches out before you, you see many choice-points along the way. The myriad of possibilities these choices present can confuse you. Draw your mind back to the threshold of this day, where I stand beside you, lovingly preparing you for what is ahead.
You must make your choices one at a time, since each is contingent upon the decisions that precedes it. Instead of trying to create a mental map of your path through this day, focus on My loving Presence with you. I will equip you as you go, so that you can handle whatever comes your way. Trust Me to supply what you need when you need it.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. —Lamentations 3:22-26
Talk about an eye-opener! I shared it with my husband, but he told me he already knew. He had read it that day when I left for the funeral. I asked him why he hadn’t told me about that. He responded, “Because it wasn’t for you…it was for me.” He was right about that. God had spoken to me in a different way that day, and He spoke to my husband through that devotional reading. He gave us both exactly what we needed when we needed it.
Now, I really thought one of the things the Lord has been trying to teach me over this past year is this world is not my home, but what I realized today, is it’s more than that. I was listening to a sermon by Max Lucado. His focus was John 15. Abide in me, and I in you. He began to explore the idea, “Abide in Christ”.
Abide in Christ.
What does “abide” mean?
The archaic definitions mean to dwell…to live.
Live in Christ. Make your home in Me.
Christ says, “Make your home in Me”.
And there was my ah-ha moment. All of the things I’ve gone through, it’s not just for me to realize things of this world don’t really matter, or I need to put God before everything else in life.
It’s more than that.
These experiences, my life, helped me not just understand, but really get in a way I never have before, that my home is in Jesus.
It’s not in a structure here on earth, it’s not in a certain possession, it’s not in my friends or family, and it’s not even in my husband who I love above all else.
My home, the place where I go to relax, to kick off my shoes, to get comfortable, to find sustenance, to find peace, to rest, to be taken care of, to be my honest and complete self…is with Jesus.
Not only when I finally get to Heaven, but now. Right now. Here, while I live in this world.
Something I’ve said repeatedly over the past two years is, “Jesus, you know my heart”. For some people, that may be a really scary thing, but for me, it is so comforting. He knows the truth about me. I don’t have to try to say the magic words to convince Him of anything or pretend to be something I’m not.
He knows…and I LOVE that.
He has taken care of me every step of the way.
His plan for me is being revealed, in His time, each step of the way. It is designed so, to draw me ever closer to Him.
I want to live in Christ, and in so doing, I am putting Him first in my life, and I will bear the fruit He wants me to bear. I won’t have to worry about how to do it…how to serve Him. If He is my home then I am a part of the true vine. The living vine. Fruit will spring forth naturally.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 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. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. —John 15:1-5
If you think that I’ve got it all figured out…I don’t.
Even though I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would provide for us, that He would guide us, and He would be there with us no matter what transpired I still allowed myself to have some level of worry. But the moment He spoke to me, all worry, fears, anxiety, whatever…vanished. There was a purpose in His timing. Like when the Israelites were caught between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army and they began to yell at Moses, “Why have you brought us here to die in the wilderness?” They felt hopeless. They saw no way out. But God brought them to this place of hoplessness so He could display for all His overwhelming power, and show them that He is the One true God. Only God could save them, and how mightily He did. So many people throughout time that know the story of the Israelites judge them as being so stupid, so blind, so unbelieving. They had seen countless wonders of the Lord and knew His might, and yet they always doubted and were easily led astray. Am I not an Israelite? Have I not seen countless wonders of the Lord in my own time, and yet I still worry. And oh…have I been led astray. Like Moses intervened with God on behalf of the Israelites, Jesus intervenes for me. In my own ignorance, I have learned much, and have grown abundantly stronger.
I am constantly under attack by Satan.
I am weak and stupid. I need constant prayer, study, and worship to even be able to make it through the day, and I don’t want to make it through the day without spending a lot of my time with Him.
I have no idea what my future on this earth holds.
I only know that I have surrendered myself to serving the Lord. I know how much I need Him, and without Him I am nothing. I know how much He loves me, and I don’t deserve it. I know how much I owe Him, and I can never repay Him. I know how good He is, and I want to be more like Him.
I pray to live a life that is a testament for Him. Only. For. Him.
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God bless you!
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