I don’t know how to begin, except that I must.
I cannot get away from these words from John 15: Abide. Abide in Me.
It’s been cycling around in me for weeks. Months. Abide in Me.
Eventually, it has become obvious that I am double-minded and full of hypocrisy. And frankly I still need help accepting what I have been trying not to hear: that the reality of my life is short of what I say I’m after.
I’ve developed a hybrid life that seems holy but isn’t. I like it because it allows to me keep all the things I don’t want to overcome, and lay claim to an shell-game inheritance that requires little from me. What’s more: few challenge me on it, because my half-life validates theirs–and there we commune, teetering jovially between love and death.
Abide in Me. Unless you abide in Me, you cannot bear fruit.
Recently, some friends—beautiful Jesus lovers—shared with me a decision that cut me deep, because their choices were so detrimental. And yet they were indifferent, even defensive, of their sin. Didn’t they realize how expensive their callousness would be? I raged inside, hurting and sad, until the Father’s Spirit cut me wide open: Are you so different?
Abide in Me. I’ve been saying it to you, over and over. Abide in Me. I am Home. I am Source. I am THE Bread of Life. There is no other. Abide IN ME. I am the Standard–come higher!
It’s not that I’ve been involving my life in some sort of deeply terrible activity, or that I’ve got a dark secret. I don’t have a skeleton to expose. But once the Spirit calls you out of a thing—anything—to stay in it is sin.
And I had stayed far too long in silly things that were going to keep me from everything I’ve been longing for. I have been double-minded in my repentance and resented that love would constrain me. If it was really Freedom’s voice, wouldn’t I like its sound?
No. Freedom’s voice is always sandpaper if the son has grown sleepy.
Abide in Me. If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done…
But the smorgasbord of the earth is wide and glittering. An entire world system screams for my attention and lures me with entitlements and distractions. It numbs my heart and seduces the euphoric release of my opinions, fueling division and anger and belittling righteousness. The noise is designed to capture my fascinations, and I don’t notice the invisibility cloak by which the sounds of hell are disguised.
The more time I spend in there—in the matrix of it all—the more I think like them. I share their perceptions and limitations. My relationships encounter foolish and tragic wounds. I spend my money in their systems and expand their influence. I adopt their fears and worse, I adopt their false identities. I give life to something that is destined to be destroyed. Eventually I begin to negotiate my rebellion, trying to justify a living that by definition can never be Life.
Jesus, forgive Me. I was blind, but now I see.
And it’s all like sugar–once we are addicted, it’s incredibly difficult to pry the mind free. The taste buds become numb to what real bread tastes like, and frankly, our spirit develops a layer of fat and falls out of shape, completely unable to scale the mountain of the Lord.
Abide in Me. Every branch that does not bear fruit, He takes away…
I’m sitting here writing and it’s abnormally hard. I think that’s because I’m writing to you instead of doing the thing I’d rather be doing. The void is obvious. The empty habit is nagging the mind for attention, and the spirit has taken a stand, allowing the craving to continue. It feels cruel, but also, right.
Abide in Me.
In Jesus. Dwell in Him. Allow His bread to be the answer to every void that is pried open by the Spirit. Trust Him to perfectly satisfy me.
It seems extreme, that I would cause Him to become my source. No one really does that, do they?
But this is where I am, in the purest, most unreligious way I can express. I cannot let go of the invitation…Abide in Me! I am the Perfect Context and Fulfillment for everything that is in you. If you have appetite for someone or something you can’t find in Me, look again. Look again! I am laying My chest open to you.
It seems drastic to depart from the hypothetical, where I could still convince myself of a realm in with all things are permissible and beneficial. But I was made for kingdom life, and that appetite for treason carries the now-repellant hiss of death.
It’s a little hard, sometimes, to eat “Bread” I can’t touch, and “Abide” in a place I can’t see. It feels unnatural to choose invisible over tangible. But I think it seems hard because I have spent more of my life training my physical senses than my inward spirit. But I have pursued the sugar-laced factory food long enough to gag at its smell. Invincibly, things of Him just for me bubble up that are priceless and perfect and transformative. The pure fruits of the Spirit etch themselves upon my soul.
So these days I am learning to allow all my appetites to lay in front of me, examining each without loyalty. What is it seducing me to want? Where will this hunger lead me? Is it as harmless as it appears? Is it more expensive than it would ever allow me to recognize? Am I commanding the stones to be made into bread?
Will it fuel life, or will it leave me sleepy and fat?
Because I AM climbing the mountain of my Father. I hear Him calling for me.