HEATHER MACDONALD | ABIDE IN HIM | Friday, October 2, 2020

What a crazy season of life this has been for so many of us. These months have been full of uncertainty, questions, doubts, and fear. We are walking unknown paths and facing emotions many of us have never experienced before. On top of all of this, I have spoken with many who are facing their own kinds of crises on top of COVID- sickness, relationship breakdowns, financial struggles, wayward children. The reality is that life is full of the unexpected. If not today, then at some point in the future, your journey will bring you through a season of pain. You will find yourself desperately crying out to God for help - acutely aware of how little “control” you have over anything. I hate to be the bearer of such disheartening news, but we all know this to be true, whether through our own experience, or that of others. Life is full of twists and turns.  One second you are blessed with a full heart, cup overflowing with good things and then, in a mere moment, the fragility of life blindsides you, as the road you are walking descends somewhere you could never have imagined. This has been a reality for me.

Throughout my own life, and even in our early years of marriage, we have walked some very difficult and painful roads. But it was there in that darkness that my own walk with Christ grew in depth and my love for him become so real and full. I miss the deep dependence I had on him to meet my heart’s longings with his unfailing love. I miss the sweet moments, as I listened to a passionate worship song on repeat and spoke to him through my tears,- telling Jesus that he would be enough for me. An unwavering truth settled firmly in my heart in those years that, no matter what was coming around the next bend, he would be there and would not forsake me. I desperately needed Jesus in those times, and I knew it.

I hate to admit this, but it’s true - in seasons of peace and rest, when I am soaking up the blessings of God, I often find myself no longer crying out to him in the same way. I, instead, become content and comfortable - which are not bad emotions in themselves, but so meaningless without a grateful heart and a continued dependence upon God.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a sadist. I am INCREDIBLY thankful for where God has brought me, and for this beautiful period of life I find myself in right now (yes, even with COVID). Still, I find myself feeling somewhat dry spiritually, no longer as aware of my need for Jesus, and wondering why it takes such pain and sorrow to really drive me to Jesus. Perhaps you understand this feeling? I don’t want to have to endure suffering in order to know God’s presence in that deep and real way, but I DO want to need him with that same intensity. So, the question becomes, “How do I soften my heart today and wake myself up to just how much I need him, even still?”. I want the truth of the gospel, in all its redeeming fullness, to cover even these sweet and peace-full days.

I know this is a familiar passage to many of us, but as I read it the other day, it was a wonderful reminder to me of the fact that we depend on Jesus for all things and in every moment of our life. These verses are found in John chapter 15:

“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.”

Abiding in Jesus sounds like such a tender place to be. To “abide” means to rest, trust in, and depend on Jesus. Now, as Christians, of course we would say that we do those things but, day to day, we are often just relying and depending upon ourselves. When life is a struggle, and we feel overwhelmed with even the next step before us, we know how much we need to “abide” in him. In those times, we are acutely aware of the fact that we can do NOTHING. We have no control, we can’t “fix” the problem, we can’t control the outcome, we are utterly helpless. In times of difficulty, we are quick to call out to Jesus to help us and we work hard to push ourselves to abide in his love daily. Yet, this need to abide is a reality even when we feel like we have nothing to worry about and the path is smooth and gentle under our feet. Even when we are in seasons of rest and ease, the need to “abide in him” is constant. Each breath is his gift, and we can do NOTHING of eternal value without his sovereign and loving hand enabling and empowering us.

As Christians, we do not want to merely coast through the day making “good enough” choices. We want to “bear fruit” that will last. When my children need me for the hundredth time, and I have to respond with patience AGAIN, it is Jesus who I can cry out to for the ability to do this rather than responding with an impatient and irritated edge. When my spouse (yes, even Deven) responds insensitively to me, and I want to retaliate and prove him wrong, it is Jesus whom I can plead with to help me show grace to Deven when I’d rather tell him what I really think. When I have a day full of blessing, laughter with friends, time to myself, and energy to spare, it is Jesus who has given these gifts and, without him, I would have none of it. I can fall asleep with simply a contented sigh or I can take a second and cry out in thanks to him for every good gift he has given that day. We can take the simple and often-overlooked moments of our lives and turn them into opportunities to give him glory and declare our utter reliance on him. Our love for Jesus grows as we develop thankful and dependent hearts and stop to recognize our need for him in all things.

The truth is that we have nothing good and can do nothing good without abiding in Christ. John 15:8 says that “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

 The ultimate goal as a disciple of Christ, as we choose to abide in him, is that God would be glorified (made much of). It is this truth that we must settle in our hearts, no matter where we find ourselves today. We NEED Jesus - for without him, we can do nothing and bear no fruit that brings him glory.

Let’s declare together today the words of this familiar song:

“Lord I need you, oh I need you. Every hour, I need you. My one defense, my righteousness. Oh God, how I need you”

Heather MacDonald Bio: I’ve been married to Deven for 14 years. We have three kids ages 6, 5 and 2. We have been on staff at Summerside for about 8 years. I was a missionary kid growing up and spent a big chunk of my life in Scotland. I came to Canada at age 20 for bible college and that’s where I met Deven - never looked back 😊 I love music - song writing/singing, lifting heavy weights, and being out in nature with my family.

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