The John 15 passage is rooted deeply within me – pun intended, I guess. I grew up hearing about the vine and the branches all of the time. Even still, abiding is a huge piece of my daily walk with Jesus. I wrote about it last week, in fact. But I also grew up with this idea that the vine and the branches concept was an omen, a reminder that your life wasn’t going to be as fun once you were tethered to Jesus. There was this sense that I’d be giving up something if I chose to follow Him.
And over the last several years, I’ve learned that I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I’ve learned that the fun begins when I decide to let God have his way with my life. The real adventure begins when I plant my feet firmly in his truth and let him guide my path. The vine and branches passage isn’t meant to drag me down or lock me up. It’s meant to set me free.
When we took our kids to the beach earlier this summer, my baby couldn’t stay away from the water. From the moment we set her down, she ran right to it, squealing with delight. But she always stopped just short, waiting for me. Once I had her in my arms, though, it was on. She would lean as hard as she could into the water, one arm around mine and the other splashing at the waves. Again, Momma, again. Always headed out to sea, but still holding onto me. She found freedom in that, in a wild adventure that started in her mother’s arms.
And if I can be cheesy and honest? That’s exactly what my life with Jesus has become. A wild adventure, one I experience while rooted deeply and tethered sweetly to a Father who might let me get wet, but who will never let me drown. And it’s realizations like this that make me ask, Why can’t everyone experience the Lord like I do? So I figure I might as well spread that Good News or die trying.
The topic of abiding comes up a lot amongst women, especially in the summer. We are big fans of rest and slowing down our rhythms. It’s important to remember where we get our strength and peace and inspiration. The God who gives it loves nothing more than to share it with us while we’re curled up at His feet or sitting on His lap like little kids. Abiding is crucial, essential to the Christian faith. My own best friend created a product for the very concept.
I think we love it, but we’re bad at it. I think we fight the idea of abiding, in the sense that things get a little too quiet and still for our comfort. If we don’t keep the plates spinning, our world may actually fall apart. Because we’ve grown up in a world that doesn’t take margin seriously, we’re not quite sure how to build it into our lives. It feels scary and boring. Make no mistake, though, abiding is not boring. In fact, nothing about the Christian life should ever feel stagnant. Every fiber of faith is active.
It started out with a Jesus who came into the world and walked among men and touched people with his hands and died on a cross and rose from the dead. It continued when he called us to go out into the world and make disciples, followers, of every nation. There was a lot of walking involved. And even more so, there was a lot of dreaming involved. People had literally never heard of the ideas about which Jesus spoke. What a stretching and growing time for those folks, to get their worlds turned upside and choose to trust a Savior, the Deity they’d always heard about as children.
And even to this day, that is exactly what abiding feels like. It’s a stretching and growing time. It’s letting Jesus turn our worlds upside down while we hang out in his presence. It’s choosing to trust a Savior who asks us to get a little uncomfortable sometimes. And we catapult out of summer and into the busy season of routines and schedules and noise, let’s not forget that abiding is what gives us the strength and peace and inspiration to do all of those things well. The season of rest may be over… but we’re just getting started.
I cannot remember the last time I wrote about my kids, but I’ve got some stuff bubbling up that’s too long for Instagram. So I’m going mommy-blogger here for a few posts…
I constantly feel like I’m keeping my baby boy at arm’s length. Feel free to psychoanalyze me. Maybe it’s because his tastes are different from mine, even at this young of an age. I often think to myself, I hope he turns out cool. Why is he laughing at that? Maybe it’s because his birth and infancy were hard for me. I spent a lot of hours staring at him instead of holding him, trying to figure out how to get him to fall in love with me. Maybe it’s some sort of buried guilt that he’s about to start kindergarten and I never stayed home full-time with him as a baby, though I think we all know how well that would’ve turned out. Maybe it’s razor-sharp memory, the one that allows him to describe the outfit he was wearing the day I missed an event at preschool.
Whatever it is, I put it in my head that it’s caused a rift. I constantly feel like I’m keeping my baby boy at arm’s length. And I don’t want that. I’m crazy about him, and I want him to feel it. I want him to like me. I want him to look at me and feel joy. I want him to forget about all of the times I’ve let him down and hurt him. I want him to give me grace. I want him to believe the best in me. Wait a minute, do I want my son to act like Jesus?
Last night, I took my boy on a date and I actually felt nervous at times. It’s been a few months since we were alone like that, and I didn’t know what to expect from this kid who’s getting older by the second. Would he hold my hand? Would he enjoy our time together? The answer is yes, to all of those things. At one point, he wrapped both arms around both of my legs and I felt all of that weird stuff just melt away. It hit me as he sat on my lap at one stop, letting me scratch his back. He was loving me anyway. All of this time.
He does like me. He does look at me and feel joy. He might remember all of the times I’ve let him down, but he gives me grace. He believes the best in me. He acts like Jesus. And as if to answer my thoughts, two different times throughout the night I heard him say, “Momma? You’re the best momma I ever had.”