I’m in this for the long haul

I’m a lunchbox communicator.

When my oldest girls started school, I slipped little notes of love and encouragement into their lunch bags periodically, especially for big tests or on project days.

I realized, though, that my one girl in particular would much prefer funny to sweet, so I  started writing her jokes instead of love notes.  She liked  them so much,  I ended up creating an entire collection of lunchbox-worthy jokes I found online so I’d always have something to share.

This was a big hit.  If a joke was particularly funny, my kids passed it  around their lunch table and shared with their friends.

When I started running low on material for my lunchtime comedy routine, my  friend suggested I  clip comics from the Sunday newspaper for my family.  So, for the first  time in my life, I’ve become a devotee of the “Sunday funnies,” cutting out  my favorites and tucking them into lunchboxes whenever I find a good one.

My son just started school now and he’s  an emerging reader, so he’s not quite ready for most of my go-to notes, jokes or comics.

So, one day last week I scribbled onto an index card and put it in my Andrew’s lunchbox along with his apple and goldfish.  I included a simple (very simple) drawing (I’m no artist)  of a cat wearing a top hat.  I stuck to beginner phonics and wrote,  “The cat has a hat”  and signed it, “Love,  Mom.”

That night, I ran through my “how was your day?” questions with Andrew, including, “How was lunch?”

He said, “I got your funny note.”

Simple and sweet.  It made him laugh when he found it in his bag, he said.

The next day, I packed his lunch without a note inside,  which I heard about when he got home.  “How come you didn’t make me a funny card for my lunch?”

I just hadn’t thought about it.  I didn’t know he was looking forward to  getting a note EVERY SINGLE DAY.

That’s not  so easy to  do,  by the way, if you aren’t great at drawing and you’re trying to stick to things your beginning reader can actually read.

But it made me happy that he enjoyed it, so I  made a new card that said, “Batman has a red dog” and I sketched out my version of Batman and a red canine.

That was a win.

So now when I ask him at night what he would like in his lunch for the next day, he doesn’t ask for  food of any kind.  He says, “Don’t forget to  make me a funny note if you have time.”

I’m in this for the long haul now, at least until he can read the comics in the newspaper.

And the long haul aspect of spiritual life is what I’ve been thinking about.  What is it that I’ve begun that I need the reminder to stick with or even re-engage?

I’m usually a highly-energized starter, but isn’t it so easy to grow weary?  Isn’t it so natural to slip  into doing what I’ve always done without attention, care, passion, focus—without moving forward?

In the past few years, I’ve had many ministries and relationships that God has asked me to lay down.  I’ve said goodbyes in some places so  I could start in on something new.  There have been endings and new beginnings.

I remain watchful and yielded, asking  and praying often, “Do I continue?  Do I stop?  Do I begin?  Do I  move on?”  I seek intently and purposefully to know what God would have me do or not do.

But there are some in-it-for-the-long-haul commitments where I need some intermittent reminders like Paul’s words  to the church in Corinth:

 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB).

Be steadfast.

Be immovable.

Be productive—abounding in the work of the Lord.

The only way that steadiness and faithfulness a re possible for me is because I  can remember this promise: that anything I do in the Lord is never wasted.

This i s Paul’s reminder in Galatians also:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9 ESV).

It’s the reminder of harvest that helps me not give up; the reminder that God has a purpose and a plan and a blessing; the reminder that I’m serving Him and loving Him and this is truly worship.

It’s the reminder of how He loves us so that re-energizes me for the race I’m running  and helps me keep at it, day after day, season after season.

 

 

Bible Verses about God’s Comfort

  • Psalm 23:4 ESV
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
        your rod and your staff,
        they comfort me.
  • Psalm 71:21 ESV
    You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.
  • Psalm 86:17 ESV
    Show me a sign of your favor,
        that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
        because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
  • Psalm 119:50 ESV
    This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
  • Psalm 119:52 ESV
    When I think of your rules from of old,
        I take comfort, O Lord.
  • Psalm 119:76 ESV
    Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
  • Psalm 119:81-82 ESV
    My soul longs for your salvation;
        I hope in your word.
    82 My eyes long for your promise;
        I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
  • Isaiah 12:1 ESV
    You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
  • Isaiah 40:1 ESV
    Comfortcomfort my people, says your God.
  • Isaiah 49:13 ESV
    Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
  • Isaiah 51:3 ESV
    For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
  • Isaiah 51:12 ESV
    “I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass,
  • Isaiah 52:9 ESV
    Break forth together into singing,
        you waste places of Jerusalem,
    for the Lord has comforted his people;
        he has redeemed Jerusalem.
  • Isaiah 56:18 ESV
    I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
  • Isaiah 61:1-2 ESV
    The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
        because the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor;[a]
        he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim liberty to the captives,
        and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;[b]
    to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
        and the day of vengeance of our God;
        to comfort all who mourn;
  • Isaiah 66:13 ESV
    As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
  • Jeremiah 31:13 ESV
    Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
  • Zechariah 1:17 ESV
    Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’”
  • Matthew 5:4 ESV
    “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
  • Acts 9:31 ESV
    So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
  • 2 Corinthians 7:6-7 ESV
    But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
    Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
  • Philippians 2:1-2 ESV
     So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV
    Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,
     17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Reminders of grace for those of us who are imperfect

It’s official.  My “baby” tugged on his sneakers, pulled his backpack onto his shoulders, grabbed up his lunchbox and headed out the door to  kindergarten this week.

In the final week of summer, we all chimed in with school-preparation tips:

When to go to the bathroom.  How to ask to  go to the bathroom.  Where he would sit on the bus.  His room number, his lunch number, his teacher’s name, and the clipchart behavior system they use at his school.

The behavior chart caught his attention.  He prayed at night that he would only ever “be on green and never have to clip down.”

At Open House, we met his teacher and he played with toy animals and dinosaurs while I signed the pile of forms.  He zipped over to  me for a quick second while I was in mid-signature to tell me that he had accidentally knocked over the animal bucket….just accidentally….but he had picked it right up because he didn’t want to clip down.

He whispered “clip down” like he was describing ultimate doom.

So with all of his focus and concern over clipping up or clipping down, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by his last words to me before heading out to the bus on the first  day of school:

I might have to visit the principal’s office.

Wait.  What?

It wasn’t a little prophecy; it was a confession of fear.  The worst thing that could happen would be getting sent to the principal and he was worrying over that.

He didn’t visit the principal, of course.  He climbed off the bus at the end of the first  day with a good report: No clipping down.  No time out.  No conferences with the principal.

I love that he is so intent on doing the right thing and I love that the chart is really motivating him to  try hard to make  good choices.

But I have also been taking the time to counterbalance this with a conversation about grace.

Because I think he needs the reminder.  And maybe I do, too.

He’s not perfect.  He’s just a five-year-old little boy trying really hard to do the right thing and sometimes he won’t get that exactly right.

So somehow he has to learn this incredibly difficult balance between trying to do what’s right , and yet not being terrified of mistakes or paralyzed by the fear of doing the wrong thing.

After all, Jesus didn’t come to earth and die a painful, sacrificial death to atone for a bunch of people who never get it wrong.

He came because we needed His help! We needed a Savior.

I read a prayer this morning that included asking God to  bring my faults to light so He could work on them and I thought–Oh Jesus, please don’t do that!  I don’t really want to see or know or have anyone else see  or know all the ugliness of sin in me.

Later this morning, I prayed for direction and guidance, and I began to feel the pressure of getting it right, not  making a mistake, not choosing the wrong direction and ending up  in  the completely wrong place instead of where God intended.

It can start to feel like it all depends on me to do right, choose right,  be right.

So, instead of feeling the weight and the pressure of perfectionism,  I have to heave all that off of my shoulders and down at the feet of Christ.

This doesn’t depend on me.  It  is not up to me.

I read in the Psalms this reminder:

 God—he clothes me with strength
and makes my way perfect (Psalm 18:32 CSB).

I can depend on God, not on myself or my own effort.  It’s His strength I need.  And it’s God who makes “my way perfect.” I trust Him to  change me, to direct me, to help me be more like Jesus.

What I really need is to know Jesus, to love Jesus, to trust Jesus.  He cares enough about me to  forgive me,  to offer me fresh starts, and He’s big enough and strong enough to rescue me, redirect me and take me to the place He plans for me to go.

That’s why I lean into my son and I tell him, “Absolutely, I’d love for you always to be on green on the clip chart.  That’d be awesome.  But if there’s a day where you have to clip down, it’s still going to be okay.  You can just start fresh after that.  You can try again.

Bible Verses about Kindness

  • Proverbs 3:3 NASB
    Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
    Bind them around your neck,
    Write them on the tablet of your heart.
  • Proverbs 11:17 ESV
    A man who is kind benefits himself,
        but a cruel man hurts himself.
  • Proverbs 21:21 ESV
    Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
        will find life, righteousness, and honor.
  • Proverbs 31:26 ESV
    She opens her mouth with wisdom,
        and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
  • Micah 6:8 NASB
    He has told you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justice, to love kindness,
    And to walk humbly with your God?
  • Zechariah 7:9 ESV
    “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,
  • Luke 6:35 NIV
     But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
  • Acts 28:2 NASB
    The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.
  • Romans 2:4 NIV
    Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
  • Romans 11:22 ESV
    Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV
    Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
  • Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
  • Ephesians 4:32 NASB
    Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
  • Colossians 3:12 NIV
    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
  • Titus 3:4-5 ESV
    But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

Bible Verses about Guidance and Direction

  • Exodus 33:12-16 NASB
    Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.” 14 And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. 16 For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”
  • Psalm 5:8 NIV
    Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies—
    make your way straight before me.
  • Psalm 25:4-5 NASB
    Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
    Teach me Your paths.
    Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
    For You are the God of my salvation;
    For You I wait all the day.
  • Psalm 25:9 NIV
    He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
  • Psalm 25:12 NIV
    Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
  • Psalm 31:3
    Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
  • Psalm 32:8 NASB
    I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
    I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
  • Psalm 43:3 NASB
    O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
    Let them bring me to Your holy hill
    And to Your dwelling places.
  • Psalm 86:11
    Teach me Your way, O Lord;
    I will walk in Your truth;
    Unite my heart to fear Your name.
  • Psalm 119:35 NASB
    Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
    For I delight in it.
  • Psalm 119:105 NASB
    Your word is a lamp to my feet
    And a light to my path.
  • Psalm 139:23-24 NASB
    Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
    And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
    And lead me in the everlasting way.
  • Psalm 143:8 NASB
    Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning;
    For I trust in You;
    Teach me the way in which I should walk;
    For to You I lift up my soul.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
    In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
  • Proverbs 16:9 NASB
    The mind of man plans his way,
    But the Lord directs his steps.
  • Isaiah 30:21 NIV
    Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
  • John 10:3-4 NASB
    To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
  • John 16:13 NIV
    But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
  • James 1:5-6 NIV
     If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
  • Romans 12:2 NASB
    And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Bible Verses about Seasons

  • Genesis 1:14 CSB
    Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for seasons and for days and years.
  • Genesis 8:22 CSB
    As long as the earth endures,
    seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
    summer and winter, and day and night
    will not cease.”
  • Deuteronomy 11:14 ESV
    (A promise to Israel)
     He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.
  • Psalm 1:3 ESV
    He is like a tree
        planted by streams of water
    that yields its fruit in its season,
        and its leaf does not wither.
    In all that he does, he prospers.
  • Psalm  74:17 CSB
    You set all the boundaries of the earth;
    you made summer and winter.
  • Psalm  104:19 ESV
    He made the moon to mark the seasons
        the sun knows its time for setting.
  • Psalm 145:15 ESV
    The eyes of all look to you,
        and you give them their food in due season.
  • Proverbs 15:23 ESV
    To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
        and a word in season, how good it is!
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV

    For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
    a time to be born, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
    a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    a time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    a time to tear, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    a time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace.

  • Song of Solomon 2:11-13 CSB
    For now the winter is past;
    the rain has ended and gone away.
    12 The blossoms appear in the countryside.
    The time of singing[a] has come,
    and the turtledove’s cooing is heard in our land.
    13 The fig tree ripens its figs;
    the blossoming vines give off their fragrance.
    Arise, my darling.
    Come away, my beautiful one.
  • Isaiah 55:10-11 CSB
    For just as rain and snow fall from heaven
    and do not return there
    without saturating the earth
    and making it germinate and sprout,
    and providing seed to sow
    and food to eat,
    11 so my word that comes from my mouth
    will not return to me empty,
    but it will accomplish what I please
    and will prosper in what I send it to do.”
  • Ezekiel 34:26 ESV
     And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing.
  • Daniel 2:21 CSB
    He changes the times and seasons;
    he removes kings and establishes kings.
    He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those
    who have understanding.
  • Zechariah 10:1 CSB
    Ask the Lord for rain
    in the season of spring rain.
    The Lord makes the rain clouds,
    and he will give them showers of rain
    and crops in the field for everyone.
  • Matthew 24:32 CSB
    Learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near.
  • Acts 1:7-8 CSB
    He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
  • Acts 14:17 ESV
    Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
  • Galatians 6:9 CSB
    Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2
    About the times and the seasons: Brothers and sisters, you do not need anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
  • 2 Timothy 4:2 CSB
     Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.

From Here to Eternity

I announced  it was time to go and my son and his friend scrambled into clean-up mode and prepared to say their goodbyes.

When I opened the door, my little guy turned to call out one final farewell.  That’s when his friend ran to the door and they both leaned over for a sideways hug.  My son then made what he considers the ultimate, laid-in-cement gesture of friendship.  He yelled, “I’ll invite you to my birthday party!”

It’s August.

My son’s birthday is in October.

In the parking lot, I ask him how he enjoyed his time with his “best bud,” and he quickly corrects me.  He likes to call him, “my favorite friend.”

I’ve been thinking  as I watch all my kids, in their various stages of friendship and maturity, about what it really means to connect and belong, to love, to show grace, to stand strong and maybe even stand alone, and how God can bind us together with others in community.

After all, my son doesn’t just  think about his friend now, or about inviting his friend to a party in October.  He thinks about when they’re in middle school  together and then about high school.  He’s got long-term plans for friendship. This is sweet and cute and so “5-years-old,” but what if this is also for me as an adult, too?

In his book, Practice Resurrection, Eugene Peterson says this about  the Church,

The Holy Spirit formed it (the church) to be a colony of  heaven in a country of  death.

This image captivates me.  “A colony of  heaven.”  We can’t be heaven, of course.  We live in sin-brokenness and we are so clearly imperfect.  After all, that’s why we’re part of the Church—because we need a Savior!  Because we’re sinners!  We step on each other’s toes and we invade each other’s spaces at times.  We all battle Death;  it surrounds us in this death-bound world.  The church is constantly battered from without and beaten within by the impact of that brokenness.

Still, we have life.  We who follow Jesus already possess eternal life.  This is what ties us together as believers.  We’re not just in this together for the temporary, or even for a decade.  We’re in this together for eternity, and the great news is that our eternity has already begun.

It’s not “once upon a time.”  Our Kingdom life, our heavenly journey, begins the moment we follow Christ.

How can that change my perspective on loving others?

I feel less pressured, for one thing.  I remember that God has an eternal work in mind.  He brings people into my life and then He moves them on in a new season, and I can let Him direct my steps.  When to cling?  When to let go?  He knows, and  I can trust Him.

When God was preparing to  take Elijah up to heaven, his sidekick, right-hand man, and apprentice (Elisha) knew Elijah was about to leave.

In 2 Kings 2, Elijah told Elisha three different times, “You stay here.  God wants me to go to  another place—Bethel, Jericho, the Jordan.”  He tried to get Elisha to stay behind.

But every time Elisha said, “As Adonai lives and as you live, I will  not leave you” (2 Kings 2:6).  Elisha remained steadfastly by Elijah’s side and ultimately received a double-portion of the Lord’s anointing when he sees Elijah taken up to heaven.

Then Elijah was gone.   God removed Elijah and led Elisha into a new season of ministry without his mentor there any longer.

I remember this also: that eternity has begun for us, but none of us are perfect in the here and now.  I need the perspective of grace and of growth for me and for others: that we’re transforming—we haven’t already transformed.

Paul writes:

And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,  equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness (Ephesians 4:11-13 CSB).

We’re in that place now of building  and equipping one another, and we’re in this together UNTILUntil Christ comes.  Until we’ve achieved 100% unity in faith and knowing Jesus.  Until we’ve fully matured into Christ-likeness.

We’re not there yet.  In the meantime, we equip each other.  We build each other up.  We help each other become more like Jesus.  We serve and we minister as He’s called and equipped us for the benefit of the whole Church because we’re in this together for now and for eternity.

 

Bible Verses about Abiding in Jesus

  • John 8:31 ESV
    So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
  • John 14:17 ESV
    that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
  • John 15:4-10  ESV
    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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
  • Colossians 2:6 ESV
    Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
  • 1 John 2:6 ESV
    whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
  • 1 John 2:24 ESV
    Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
  • 1 John 2:27 ESV
     As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, [a]you abide in Him.
  • 1 John 2:28 ESV
    And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
  • 1 John 3:6 ESV
    No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or [a]knows Him.
  • 1 John 3:24 ESV
    Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
  • 1 John 4:13 ESV
    By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
  • 2 John 1:9 ESV
    Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Not the same anymore

When my son was a baby, I  gave away his infant swing because he hated it.  He was the fourth baby in our line of babies to swing in that very same swing.  Others had loved it, just not him.  So I  gave the swing away and saved space in our living room.  It was a win-win.

Now here  we are five years later and this same kid spent at least 30 minutes swinging non-stop at the playground today.  He shooed me away when I tried  to push him because, “I know how to pump my legs all  by myself now, mom.

So, I sat on the nearby bench in the shade and watched as he lifted himself higher and higher.

This is the same boy.

Sometimes you don’t really catch all the signs that your kids are growing up .  Then there’s a moment when you’re sitting on a wooden bench alongside a playground and it hits you all at once: How big he really is.  How he’s about to start kindergarten.  How he’s changed so much.

And that’s the thing that I’ve been  weighing this afternoon, the changing.  A former baby-swing-hater now loves to swing.

I’ve had changes all  around me in the past year or two, and I have changes before me in this next year once again.

A “baby” starting kindergarten.  My oldest starting high school.   A brand new season where, for  the first time in 15 years, I don’t have a little one at home with me.

I do not love change.  I do not seek it out and I do not enjoy it. I push against change all the time, clinging tight-fisted to whatever reality I know in fear of whatever is unknown.

But here I am in a season of  change, a long  season of frequent and significant changes at that.

So I wonder as I  watch my son swinging away today whether God wants to  do more than just transition and transform the environment around me.  Could it be that He wants to do the same work of transition and transformation inside me?

What can He change within me that maybe I’ve thought could never change?   A habit?  A weakness?  A stubbornness?  A sinful attitude?  A prejudice or judgment?  A fear?

When the Old Testament prophet, Samuel, poured anointing oil over a man named Saul and announced he would be the first king  of Israel, it wasn’t because Saul was already equipped for the job.  Scripture says:

Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day (1 Samuel 10:9 NASB). 

God changed Saul’s heart in that very moment.

Not that Saul was perfect, mind you.  Far from it.  We know his failures as a king and spiritual leader of Israel.

Still, in that moment, God changed Saul’s heart because God had a plan for Saul.

What if I offered up my heart for the Spirit’s work, invited the Lord to do the renovation that needs to  be done?

Joy where there is not joy.  Peace where there is fear. Love for others who are hard to love.  Humility in the places pride has dug down deep.  Compassion in hard ground.   Repentance when my heart hasn’t been soft enough to see the sin.

Change my heart, Lord.  Change my mind and thought processes and attitudes so that I reflect your heart and your mind.

My struggle sometimes is that I don’t want change.   Other times my struggle is that I long for something to  give way and change, but  change feels impossible.  Stuck.  Hopeless.

What then?

Warren Wiersbe reminds us that:

God is not limited by the past.  No matter how many disappointments and failures we may have had in the past, when Jesus Christ comes on the scene, everything has to change….Nothing paralyzes our lives like the attitude that things can never change.  We need to remind ourselves that God can change things!  God can forgive sin and put new power into lives that seem to be utter failures.  God can send revival to a church that everybody thinks is dead.   God can move into a difficult situation and turn seeming failure into victory.  God makes the difference!” (The Bumps are What You Climb On).

Christ’s presence means everything has to  change.

So I settle my heart, I yield, I invite Him in and I invite Him to  make Himself at home.  May He change what needs to be changed in my life, in my circumstances, in my relationships, and in my heart and mind.

Bible Verses about Restoration

  • Job 42:10 NASB
    The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold.
  • Psalm 14:7 CSB
    Oh, that Israel’s deliverance would come from Zion!
    When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
    let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
  • Psalm 23:3 NASB
    He restores my soul;
    He guides me in the paths of righteousness
    For His name’s sake.
  • Psalm 51:12 CSB
    Restore the joy of your salvation to me,
    and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.
  • Psalm 71:20-21 NIV
    Though you have made me see troubles,
        many and bitter,
        you will restore my life again;
    from the depths of the earth
        you will again bring me up.
    21 You will increase my honor
        and comfort me once more.
  • Hosea 6:1 CSB
    Come, let us return to the Lord.
    For he has torn us,
    and he will heal us;
    he has wounded us,
    and he will bind up our wounds.
  • Jeremiah 30:17 NASB  (About Israel and Judah)
    ‘For I will restore you to health
    And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
    “It is Zion; no one  cares for her.”’
  • Joel 2:25-26 CSB
    I will repay you for the years
    that the swarming locust ate,
    the young locust, the destroying locust,
    and the devouring locust—
    my great army that I sent against you.
    26 You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied.
    You will praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has dealt wondrously with you.
    My people will never again be put to shame.
  • Amos 9:14  CSB
    I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel.[a]
    They will rebuild and occupy ruined cities,
    plant vineyards and drink their wine,
    make gardens and eat their produce.
  • Zechariah 9:12 CSB
    Return to a stronghold,
    you prisoners who have hope;
    today I declare that I will restore double to you.
  • Acts 3:19-21 CSB
    Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out,20 that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about through his holy prophets from the beginning.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
     Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,[b]agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
  • Galatians 6:1 CSB
    Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit,[a] watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted.
  • 1 Peter 5:10 CSB
     The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while