There is a word that kept coming up over the past year, maybe two. And I don’t know how I felt about it. I think I mostly felt lost about it.
I kept noticing it, like a little note from Heaven sent down for me. God calling me, trying to get me to just sit with Him, but I was honestly just so mad and so broken-hearted, and my trust was totally gone.
I thought God only wanted me to abide in Him so that He could get me to do stuff for Him.
And I was pretty much done with doing stuff for Him because church planting was the hardest thing I’d ever done and I pushed myself hard to drag 4 kids to everything, or come to church right after having babies, or go to retreats at 37 weeks gestation, or serve and serve and serve and feel like no one appreciates it. And at that time my whole family of origin seemed to be falling apart, alcoholism rearing its ugly head and wreaking havoc in so many areas on the one side, and on the other side, my dad died and grief was affecting each family member close to him in different ways (which, let me just say, for some of us, that’s a realllllllly nice way to put it). So yeah, you know what, God? I kinda just want to sit here and do what I want for now, thanks though.
Oh, but our God. Man, I’m lucky he’s such a loving and patient God who could see my pain, and waited like the most loving parent for me. He heard me think such adolescent thoughts about him, equivalent to slamming the door and screaming I hate you! like some teenager on an hormonal rampage. But He is all wisdom, and He is all love, and He waited patiently, lovingly, for me to be able to see. I don’t even know yet all the things he has done to carry me through this pain, while I beat my fist on his chest pushing Him away and blaming Him.
Through all of this, He continued to pursue me: abide in me. And I continued to wonder, “How? I’ve been continuing to go to church. I’ve continued to go to small group. I’ve tried to mentor people and help people. I help out with kid’s classes. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I read my bible. Sometimes I get up early to do it, and I listen to worship music, and I’m showing UP, God, but where are you? Why won’t you come to me?”
And then one day, I was laying on my bed, praying. And I felt that I should get down on my knees, and I was like nope. I don’t have to get on my knees to pray, laying here on the bed is just fine. There’s no rules about this, people can pray however they want. But it became very clear to me that God wanted me to get on my knees, not because he was commanding my obedience, but because he wanted me to trust Him. (I figured that part out later.)
He made it clear, because though I intended to continue praying on my bed, I soon found that I couldn’t continue praying. No more words were coming, the only thing I could think of was I have to get on my knees. Begrudgingly, awkwardly, uncomfortably, I got on my knees and soon discovered that I was able to pour my heart out again.
And so, I finally asked. “Why can’t I abide in you, God? What does it even mean? I don’t get it.”
And I didn’t hear a voice or anything but I felt it, very deep in my spirit, “You don’t abide in me because you are afraid to abide in me. You are afraid to trust me. You are scared of what abiding in me may cost you. And, you feel like abiding in me is something you should do, so that you will be able to produce fruit for me. But I don’t need you to produce for me. I can do all of that on my own. The only thing I want is your heart. I want you to abide in me simply to be with me. And once you do that, you will be able to produce fruit, but not because you have to. Because you get to.”
Well. Let me tell you. I came downstairs from that prayer time a little wide-eyed and stunned. As someone who feels valued only by what I am able to contribute, as someone who is a people-pleaser, being asked not to focus on producing, not to want to be with God just so I can pour Him out again, this was going to be a challenge! But also, a sweet, sweet relief. God does not want, nor does He need, me to do anything. He’s got that all covered. But He does want me. My heart. My love. My friendship.
Ok, God. I think I can do that. You, do the rest.
(I had this bracelet made as a reminder to abide for the sake of abiding. Check out Impress Me Much Jewelry to have your own piece made. Not sponsored.)
This post is Day 7 in a 31 day writing challenge. You can read the other posts here: