Monday, May 9, 2011

Abiding in Christ

As a favor to my dear sister, Grace, I am posting something that I wrote 4 years ago. When I wrote this, God was taking me on a special journey along the road of Trials in order that I might know Him better. Grace has been asking me about the subject of which God especially taught me during that time, and has asked that I post the article on my blog so that she and others might read it again. So here you are, sister dear. Enjoy! :-)

A Lesson in Abiding

“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 15:4-5).

“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).

Who would not want to have confidence when standing before their Savior? Who would not want to bring forth much fruit? However, the prerequisite to these two things appears to stem from abiding in Christ.

I had memorized these verses, but never understood them. Desperation to understand them would at times flood my soul, and I would eagerly review the verses—saying them over and over again to myself, hoping to gain an insight into their meaning. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance did not add to my understanding either. The verses remained as meaningless as ever.

The Fatal Day
Friday, February 9, 2007

I awakened on Friday at my usual time, and begin going about my “normal” day’s activities (i.e., taking a shower, getting dressed, reading my Bible, having breakfast, going to staff meeting, and then to work…), little knowing that on this day I would begin and adventure in abiding that would allow me to comprehend the importance of these verses.

The adventure began with my daily memorization time. I sat down with my Bible and began memorizing 1 John 3. After I had memorized about ten verses of this chapter, I decided to review 1 John 1 and 2, and also John 15. As usual, those verses bewildered me. However, this time a “brilliant” thought struck me: “If you cannot understand these verses, then why not go to the Author of the Word and ask Him what they mean?”

This thought flashed through my brain like a thunderbolt, leaving me feeling somewhat stupid that I had not thought of it before then. So, in my morning prayer time, I petitioned the Lord that He would reveal the meaning of those verses to me sometime that day. However, I little knew how many times He would literally reveal this concept of abiding in Him during the days following that prayer.

The Mission:

Print a Quark Express document (i.e., Parent Guide Planner 43) to a postscript file; insert the postscript file into Adobe Distiller, and from there into Adobe Acrobat, thereby making a PDF of Parent Guide Planner 43. Then, take the PDF and post it on a website so that our reviewers could view the document and edit it. Sounds simple right? Just a few simple clicks of the mouse, and it should be finished in about five minutes.

Mission Aborted?

For over an hour I sat at my computer boggled and frustrated. All the postscript files said that they were corrupted. Then Quark document decided to crash, and none of the backups would open. Repeatedly, I tried the familiar steps, but to no avail. Disheartened, I knew not what to do. I was already an hour late for a Valentine Banquet planning meeting, and as it was now after six (over an hour after office closing time) there was no one to consult with about my problem. Finally, another thought struck my poor brain: “Pray!”

Mission Accomplished!

And so I prayed. “Father, I don’t know what is wrong with this document. I’ve tried everything, but it won’t even open for me. However, you are the Creator of the universe, and you know all things. Can you please lay your hand upon this document and allow me to open it?”

Continuing in prayer, I clicked once more on the document—holding my breath. Miracle of miracles, it opened! “Thank you Father,” I prayed. Now, to make a postscript of the file… What!? It still would not work! Again I prayed, “Father, please allow me to get this to work!” Lo and behold, no sooner had I prayed than I finally got it to work. From then on, every thing I tried to do would not work until I had prayed first—so with each click of the mouse, I prayed desperately. Finally, nearly two hours after beginning this “five minute” procedure, I had completed the task—glory be to His holy name!

I then questioned the Lord, “Father, what was that all about? Why couldn’t it have gone smoothly as usual?” Instantly, the words, “Abide in me, and I in you…for without me ye can do nothing” flashed through my mind. “Ah hah!” I thought. “So, I can’t even click a mouse without your help, is that it Lord? I have to rely on you to do EVERYTHING? Is that part of abiding?” Finally, I felt that I had begun to understand a little of what it means to abide in Christ.

Abiding Reinforced
Saturday, February 10, 2007

Place: The Children’s Program for the annual Valentine’s Banquet here at HQ
Time: Around 8:30 p.m.

What was I to do? I had four teams of children who would be coming to my assigned station in the China Room, where I was supposed to act the part of a persecuted Chinese believer and tell them stories for ten minutes. However, the art of story telling is one gift that I have always lacked. I tried rehearsing the stories a few times while I was waiting for the children to arrive. Oh dear! I kept stumbling over my words, and making an absolute mess of the story. How was I to tell these children stories that would not only keep their attention, but would also impact them for all eternity?

Again, those beautiful words, “Abide in me, and I in you…for without me ye can do nothing,” flooded my mind. “Ok, Lord,” I prayed, “After yesterday’s experience with the computer, I know that I can do nothing without you. Therefore, can you please be with me tonight and give me the words to say? Because I can’t do it without your help.”

The children arrived, and suddenly my nervous jitters vacated my soul to have the peace of God fill it instead. I sensed His presence and knew that He was with me. I soon became so engrossed in the story I was telling, that I felt as if I was the person in the story. The words continued to smoothly pour from my lips, and I knew that it was not I, but the Lord who was speaking through me. The children remained riveted on my every word, and they left with a whole new awareness of the persecuted believers of China. The Lord had again taught me to abide in Him and allow Him to work through me!

An Earthen Vessel—Another Secret to Abiding
Monday morning, February 12, 2007

During my morning Bible study, 2 Corinthians 4:7 jumped from the page: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Curios about what the word “power” meant in the Greek, I looked up the Strong’s numbers beside the word, and found the following. It was the Greek word “dunamis,” meaning power, ability, might, strength, or mighty work.

I went back and read the previous verse: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

A picture began forming in my mind. God has shone His light into my heart in the person of Jesus Christ. However, I have this treasure—the treasure of the person of Jesus Christ—stored in the “earthen vessel” of my body. What is special about an earthen vessel? Nothing. It is the lowest and the humblest of all vessels. Even so, it can still contain something—or in this case, Someone. However, because of the glorious person of the Lord Jesus Christ dwelling inside the “earthen vessel” of my body, all my “power” or abilities come directly from Him, that He alone might receive the glory!

At this realization, a sudden joy flooded my soul. “Why does this make me so happy?” I questioned. “Because it all goes back to abiding!” was the answer I received. “Abide in me, and I in you…for without me ye can do nothing.” Allowing Christ to work in and through me for the furthering of His kingdom. If I rest in Him—knowing that I can do nothing without Him, knowing that all “my” abilities come from Him—there is then no limit to what I can do for Jesus! This is why He said, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

The Continuing Lesson

Ever since that “fateful” day, the Lord has been giving me opportunities to see how truly weak and helpless I am, and how much I really need Him. An opportunity such as awakening one morning four weeks ago to find that I can’t turn my head to the left or to the right because of a sharp pain going from the base of my skull down through my shoulder blade. Or an opportunity such as walking home from Staff Meeting in the dark and failing to see a patch of ice which caused my feet to fly out from underneath me, thereby causing me to sprain my back and have whiplash in my neck. (These incidents occurred Sunday, February 18, 2007.) However, even in the midst of the ensuing pain and long recovery process, I can still thank and praise the Lord, because through it, He has shown me what a weak earthen vessel I am and that I truly can do nothing without Him.

So, in conclusion, what do I now understand those verses to mean? Here is my paraphrase.

“Abide in me. Rest in me. Gather all of your strength from me, and allow me to dwell in you. Just as a branch of a vine cannot bear fruit without the life-giving sustenance of the vine, neither can you bear fruit without relying on my strength and sustenance. If in everything you do, you realize that your strength is nothing and that you cannot do anything without my help, then, and only then, shall you be fruitful for the kingdom of God. Remember that all your abilities come from Me—your Creator and Life Giver—and without me working in and through you, you can truly do nothing.”

Sounds simple, huh? On the contrary, it took several hard lessons to get it through my head. But, the Lord be praised, I now understand these verses in a whole new way, and am trusting that as I abide in Him, that He will work in and through me for the furthering of His kingdom.

“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 15:4-5).


1 comment:

Grace said...

Melody, thank you so much for sharing this again! I really like how you paraphrased it; that really helps my put it all together. I am so blessed to have you for a big sister, and am so glad that you are open to the lessons that the Lord teaches you. I love you Melody!