the act and the art of abiding

Homeless, homesick, homeward bound, – there’s something about the idea of “home” that cuts to the core of who we are as human beings. Created for community and relationship, we constantly search for that place called “home.” Why? Because home is that place where we always have a place, the place where we belong, the place where everybody knows our name and they know who we are – the good, the bad and the ugly.

We have embroidery worthy sayings such as, “home is where you hang your hat”, or “home is where the heart is”, “there’s no place like home”, “charity begins at home”, or simply “home sweet home”. I like this quote from William J. Bennett who said, “Home is a shelter from storms – all sorts of storms.”

Because life is full of storms – inescapable storms of every kind. There are literal storms, brought to us by the weather such as tornados, blizzards, hail, thunder storms, etc. and then there are the storms brought to us by life and circumstance including illness, loss, hardships, setbacks, disappointments, betrayals, loneliness, – the list of life’s storms is a long one. Storms are inescapable, making shelter invaluable. And so I ask, where can I find shelter from the storm in times of trouble?

“For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)

My Heavenly Father wants to be my shelter. I read in Psalm 91:1-4 words that reassure me of this truth,

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

He who dwells, he who lives, he who abides – our dwelling, our abode, where we live – that’s home. It is often pointed out that we don’t get to choose the family we are born into and consequently the people with whom we share a home. Our earthly homes are not always safe places. We become wanderers in search of a home figuratively if not literally, as is the case for so many today. We search for physical shelter even as our souls long for spiritual shelter. Our Heavenly Father wants to give us both.

Ever have trouble finding a roommate? Is it difficult to find people who want to abide with you? Perhaps you feel ostracized by family or friends. So the realization that there is someone who invites you into their life and is asking permission to enter into yours, may come as quite a shock to you. But it’s true! And even more shocking is the identity of the person who wants to abide with me and with you.

“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’ ” (John 14:23)

Another translation says, “make our abode with him”. This idea of abiding implies a lasting commitment, a permanence, a settling in and a hunkering down. It hints at a long-lasting relationship. Jesus is saying that He and His Father God want to come to me and make Their home with me! How can this be? The God who spoke the universe into existence, who calls every star by name, wants to abide with me? Then I read Jesus’s words in Revelation 3:20,

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” I read this as if Jesus is saying these words personally to me, because He is,

“Here I am! I stand at your door and knock. If you hear My voice and open your door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with Me.”

What an invitation! When Jesus says He will come in and eat with me, that’s personal, deeply personal – the breaking of bread together – something Jesus did often when He was here – ending with the Last Supper when He broke bread with His disciples. But God is a uniquely personal God. He created us for relationship, for abiding with Him. Consider to what lengths He has gone to make this abiding possible,

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

“Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, . . . made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

All this, coming here, dying for our sins, making forgiveness and reconciliation possible (reconciliation paves the way for abiding) – all so that we can abide with Him! Still, I struggle to believe that God is really that interested in abiding with me. (or with any of us mortal humans, for that matter) But God Himself dispels any doubt when He says in His Word,

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

“In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14;2-3)

That’s abiding – dwelling together in the same place. This has been God’s plan all along, for me to be with Him, for anyone who accepts His invitation and opens the door, to be with Him. This is how it will be,

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

This is abiding – Jesus assures me, “Abide in Me, and I will abide in you.” (John 15:4) As I abide in Him, He promises to make His home with me.

abiding – “For in Him I live and move and have my being.” (Acts 17:28)

abiding is personal – just like Jesus, who knows every hair of my head and the way that I take. abiding – I open the door when He knocks and let Him in – we are at home together – dwelling together – that’s abiding – residing in, resting in, rejoicing in the refuge of the safe place my Heavenly Father’s presence provides me –

abiding – living, moving, being, playing, working, worshiping, learning, growing, feasting, mourning, trusting, obeying, following, belonging, crying out, being still,

abiding is knowing and being fully known and accepted (1 Corinthians 13:12) – no longer invisible – abiding is living in the shelter of His wings –

abiding – for this we were created

“I take oh cross thy shadow for my abiding place”

sincerely, Grace Day

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