How often do you fall in to the “If only” mindset?
- “If only my spouse would stop doing that/start doing this…”
- “If only, my kids would obey…not be so demanding…”
- “If only I wasn’t so busy… could take a vacation…escape…”
- “If only I lived in that neighborhood…had that item…made more money…”
- “If only I looked like her…or, our family could be like them…”
Though thoughts and desires like these may not be bad (many are actually good things), the problem is we begin trusting in these things to make us happy. To make things better. To give us life.
While temporarily we may be happier, things may be better and life feels fulfilling, they can never totally satisfy. It will never be enough and we will always want something more. So we start seeking after whatever it is now we think will “fill” us and the repeating cycle of emptiness invades our hearts once again.
The problem: We are looking for life in all the wrong places.
The good news is: The book of John (a favorite of mine after spending all last year in it) tells us exactly where to find life. But as the writer knows, we still struggle to believe this is really true.
In John 15 the word “abide” is used 11 times; making it a key word to take note of. “To abide” means to endure, remain, dwell, await without giving in. Think of these words in light of verses 4 and 5…
“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.”
John is telling us to continually endure and remain in Christ. Continually trust in his work and depend on him. As the vine he is our sustenances, our Life!
This means our top priority should be to ABIDE in Him because HE is Life. Not all those other “substitute saviors” that we turn to in hopes of finding happiness and meaning.
So what does it mean to Abide?
- We must be in the Word and we must see Him in the Word. Just as a branch receives nourishment from the vine, we are to receive our nourishment in Jesus- who is THE Word
- Stop trying to fix yourself (and others); Fix your eyes on Him. Did you read my post Deeply Loved Failures? He was perfect for us because we will never be. It is His righteousness that covers you. When we begin to get this, we begin to get and give grace!
- So, receive this love of God In Christ. The Love that makes you His friend. The Love that laid down His life and went to the cross for you. The Love that is eternal, perfect and unchanging. The Love that forgives and gives grace in abundance. When we are secure in this Love- His love- it will overflow in to love for others.
If you don’t know that God loves you and you are not abiding in Him as your Life-giver, then you will seek it from those other things. Those things that never fill us. Those things that leave us empty. And when we are empty we have nothing to pour out to others.
But you know what is amazing?
Jesus became empty and received what we deserved. He absorbed the debt and weight of our sin and refused to make us pay. He took on God’s wrath in order to give you love.
I hope seeing this costly, sacrificial love of Jesus for YOU will lead you to cling to the Vine. That you will thirst after the Word, BELIEVING in it is true Life and the only true hope and power for lasting change.
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