On my desk is a little woodcarving of a single, simple word. It’s a biblical word, but it isn’t a word we use much in everyday language. It isn’t even a word that most modern Bible translations use anymore. The word? Abide.
In modern versions of John 15, the word that used to be translated “abide” is usually now simply “remain.” That’s perfectly fine, but my heart still loves the word “abide,” as in:
Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. (John 15:4 NRSV)
Abide is the language of home. “Be at home in Me as I make myself at home in you.” Abiding is an invitation to the reality of conversational relationship with God through Christ. And the reality is that deep and abiding relationship with God is what makes our lives, our relationships and our work fruitful. Apart from this sort of abiding, things dry up.
One of the books I read a long time back that had “abide” as its focus was Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ. Listen to these rich, inviting words:
“It needs time to grow into Jesus the Vine: do not expect to abide in Him unless you will give Him that time. It is not enough to read God's Word, or meditations as here offered, and when we think we have hold of the thoughts, and have asked God for His blessing, to go out in the hope that the blessing will abide. No, it needs day by day time with Jesus and with God.” (Murray, Andrew. Abide in Christ. Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1968, p. 7.)
So abiding is an unhurried posture in relationship to God. Abiding remains rooted in God. Day by day, what helps me abide is to:
Hear the heart of Jesus extending an invitation to you: abide in me.