Learning to Be Still: Part One - Abide in Him

‎Come, my brethren, and let us  day by day
set ourselves at His feet and
meditate on this word of His,
with an eye fixed on Him alone.
Let us set ourselves in quiet trust before Him,
waiting to hear His holy voice-
the still small voice
that is mightier than the storm that rends the rocks
breathing its quickening spirit within us, as He speaks:
Abide in Me.’
-andrew murray

I’ve been studying this concept this week… abiding in Christ. I’m reading through some of the Becoming a Woman Of… series by Cynthia Heald with a dear friend of mine. We’re on Excellence right now. The thing I really love about this series is that you spend time in the Word and then you spend time truly considering and focusing on it as part of the study.  (There are too many “Bible studies” where you don’t even need a Bible, let alone the time to mull it over, you know what I mean?)  The quote above was nestled into the portion of the chapter I was reading yesterday, and I’ve latched on to it. I wrote it in one of my notebooks. I posted it on my Facebook status. And now it’s here. Why? Because I need the reminder.

Remember a few posts back when I talked briefly about how I’m learning to be instead of always doing? I feel like this is an ongoing struggle of mine: setting aside the to-do lists, the expectations of what needs to be done (from others and from myself), and allowing myself the time to breathe, to rest in Him and to simply be. I see the importance of being in the story of Mary and Martha. Martha is busy. She’s preparing her home for her guests, working hard, while her sister is seemingly doing nothing. She’s sitting around, ignoring the duties of being ‘hostess.’ It upsets her, so much so that she mentions it to Christ. Jesus tells her that Mary picked the better thing, the necessary thing: time sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening. He calls it “the good portion” and says He won’t take it away from Mary.

So the question is, how do we experience this good portion, this necessity? The answer is pretty simple and yet difficult, for me at least, to put into practice. We abide in Christ.  To abide is to accept or act in accordance with; to wait for; to remain stable or fixed in; to conform to; to accept without objection. To abide is to remain, to dwell, to stay.  And we’re to abide, to dwell, to remain in Christ [John 15].

Looking at John 15, Jesus says some form of “abide” about 10 times in verses 1-12. We learn that if we abide in Christ, He is abiding in us. We remain in Him,  dwelling in Christ and He remains fixed in us. When we’re abiding in Christ, we see evidence [fruit] of this in our lives. If we’re abiding in Christ, we ask of Him, spend time in prayer and we see prayers answered as the hand of the Lord works in our lives.

John 15:9 shows us we’re commanded to abide in Christ’s love. Abide is a verb, it implies action. In abiding in Christ, we’re mirroring Jesus, who through obedience to commandments from the Father abided in His love. Christ plainly states that if we obey His commandments, walk in obedience, we will abide in the love of Christ.

We can’t do that if we aren’t paying attention to Him. When the Martha complex in me takes over- when I’m doing, doing, doing- my thoughts are all over the place. It’s hard to focus fully on anything because I’m barely still long enough- even in my mind- to think on anything other than what I’m doing at the time or what I’ll be doing next. When ‘rest’ finally does come, it’s typically me sprawled on my bed or the couch, too bone weary to do much else.

What I should be doing is carving out time amidst the busyness to be with Him- to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He has to say. How can we obey if we aren’t listening to hear the command? How can we abide in His love if our hearts and minds aren’t staying in any one place?

Do you know what days are my best? The ones of late where in the morning I wake up and feel the very presence of God. I wake up those days with a smile on my face, feeling His peace and begin the day conversing with Him. Those mornings I grab a cup of tea to wake myself up and I open the Word of God and I search it for what He’s trying to say. When I close my Bible, it’s not the end of a conversation, it’s not shutting the Holy Spirit out for the rest of the day. It’s just another facet of my being that day. We can’t shut out living our lives or there would be no time to obey the commands we’re to be living out. So continuing that day, I get ready for work with joy in my heart, tired as I may be. I get in my car and either listen to good music or more often than not, turn off the radio entirely and either tell Him where my heart is that morning or sit in the relative silence. I keep my thoughts on Him at work by turning on music that keeps me focused on the eternal. My day goes from being busy-busy-busy to being with Him through it all, and it starts with seeking His voice, by sitting at His feet and listening. It begins by setting aside the Martha mentality and searching for the good portion that Mary knew to be sweeter than all else.

In order to be still and know in the every day, that He is God- to see Him at work and to know Him, we have to be striving to abide in Him. It requires action, a choice on our part. To abide, we must obey. To obey, we must listen to Him. To do that, we must spend time with Him and know His word, hear His callings. To know, we must spend time at His feet, reading and studying His words and allowing the Spirit to move and call us to action. To do any of that, we have to lay aside the doing. I’ve been realizing there’s no better place to cast that part of me than at His feet.