Re•main- Just Stay with Me

spring-leaves

I am coming to the end of a study that has been so transformational.  I cannot say enough about it, really.  The study is called Stuck, written by Jennie Allen.  It is Biblically strong, straight-forward, and introspective.  I knew it was going to resonate with me when I read

“Let me warn you: I will sound ridiculously redundant because I have no other answers for you but God the Father, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and heaven.”

I thought… OK, this could be good, and it has been.  More than good.  God has spoken in big ways through this study and the community of women who have engaged with one another around it.  It investigates problems and “issues” of the heart and infuses Scripture into those problems to reveal God’s cure for things that keep us “stuck.”  By speaking truth into these all-too-common thieves that steal our joy, transformation and healing and change happen.  Reading these truths and having them presented in the ways that they were, both by Allen and through the discussion, has revealed so many things to me.  Things that I knew needed to change, things that I didn’t know needed to change, and things that I didn’t know how to change have begun to be worked out through the Lord.  I forget about the power of community.  I forget that we were made to need one another.  I forget that when we share, we build each other up and help each other see more clearly.  Such a beautiful arrangement.

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This past week was the last chapter of the study and it’s entitled “unstuck”-each chapter focuses on one “stuck” place (i.e. sad, mad, discontent, overwhelmed).  She uses John 15 to begin the section.  John 15 has been close to me for months now.  The word “remain” has been buried deep in my heart and I sit with it and let it work its way around.  I wrote about it not long ago here.  “Stay in the place that one has been occupying,” this is one definition of the word remain.  If God is in us, and He promises to never leave (staying in that place), and we believe that promise. The other piece is that we must stay as well.  We must continually go to the Word to transform and renew our minds.  We must guard our hearts to protect our communion with Him.  One thing that I have gleaned through this process is that in order to remain in Him, I have to be totally dependent on His Holy Spirit in every moment- the micro and the macro.  I must stay in this state of dependence in the seemingly mundane as well as the “big” and “important” moments.  Pray about everything.

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. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  John 15:1-11 ESV (emphasis mine)

Something that I had not noticed in this passage until I read it for this part of the study is the conditional relationship that presents itself.

  • IF you don’t abide, you’re thrown out- we are nothing apart from Him
  • IF you abide in Me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you
  • IF you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love
  • you’re my friends IF you keep my commandments

In a gray world, I appreciate this clarity.  An if-then relationship is sometimes just what is needed to break through the confusion and doubt that so often clouds me.  This idea of remaining with Him can seem tricky, but then it is simply spelled out for us.  Follow what I have given you in my word.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through it.  Just stay with Me.  What goes round and round in my head all my waking hours… just stay with Me.

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