Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: Abide

Love

It’s day ten of Lent and the word prompt is LOVE.

It reminded me of the verse that talks about keeping ourselves in the love of God, probably because I’m trying to memorise it at the moment. But it got me thinking. How do I keep myself in the love of God?

It’s rather like abiding in Christ. Sounds great. But how does it happen and what does it look like?

What is love?

When I was struggling with this a while ago, I asked Adi, ‘How do you know that I love you?’

‘Well, you tell me,’ he said, ‘You’re interested in how my day has gone. You go out of your way to do nice things for me. You’re supportive when things go wrong and I’m feeling rubbish.’

Love is words and actions.

Understanding what love looks like between Adi and me helped me begin to grasp what God’s love looks like.

At the heart of it, God’s love looks like Jesus dying for His enemies so that He could invite them to be His friends. Not that God is sad and needs us. But the Father’s heart blazes with love for the Son, whose love overflows for the Spirit, who utterly adores the Father. It was out of an overflow of red-hot, blazing love that caused God to go so such extraordinary lengths to invite me into His family.

I was nothing and He gave me worth. The Most High calls me friend.

He has given me a new heart and is growing in me love and compassion. The outworking of that is that I’ve begun to see people as He sees them. A homeless man is someone’s son. A prostitute is someone’s daughter. We are human and we have worth. Love raises up.

God gives me security.

So how do I keep myself in God’s love?

I like the way this version puts it:

But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith,
pray in the Holy Spirit,
and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life.
In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

I am the True Vine (Part 2)

When I was little I received an illustrated children’s dictionary for Christmas. I enjoyed reading and loved writing stories, so my older brother thought it would be fun for me to broaden my vocabulary. He offered to give me 50 p for each page of new words I learned. I wanted the money (50 p was a lot in those days – I could have got five lots of 10 p mixes with up to 20 sweets in a bag) but not the work that went with it, so I never did earn my 50 p.

So when I was meditating on John 15 with its repeated urging to abide in Christ, I wondered what abide actually meant and how could I do that?

The dictionary definition of abide is to: tolerate, remain, continue.  To abide by is to: act upon, remain faithful to.

So to abide in Christ is to continually remain in Him and be faithful to Him. Or to put it another way, to be super-glued to Him; to be so close to Him that it is impossible to tell where I end and He begins. I like the idea of being super-glued to Jesus!

In v 9, Jesus assures me that He loves me like the Father loves Him, so I should remain in His love. How do I do that? The obvious ways are to obey Him, to read the Bible and pray. But I didn’t want it to be a thought that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside but remains a cold suggestion on a page. I want me abiding in Christ to be real.

Little GirlI got to thinking how Jesus is my Big Brother. Little sisters generally look up to their big brothers and usually go through a phase of hero-worshiping them. There is a nine year age gap between my brother and me, and as I grew up I wanted to copy the things Gary did and sought his approval.

It shouldn’t be any different with Jesus and me. Jesus is my hero because He rescued me from darkness and set me free, and it’s okay to pour everything into worshiping Him because He is God. In the Gospels, I see how Jesus remained in His Father’s love by listening and talking to Him continually through the day (and loving to spend whole nights in prayer with His Dad), and doing whatever the Father asked Him to do. So that is what I need to do: my Big Brother wants me to copy Him as a little sister who adores Him and considers Him her hero.

In v 11, Jesus said that if I abide in His love, the joy that He has will completely fill me. Joy is stronger and better than happiness because it isn’t dependent on circumstances. I first experienced Jesus’ joy bubbling up inside me when I was weak and ill with ME/chronic fatigue and cerebellar ataxia – some days just breathing took every ounce of energy and concentration, yet I knew His joy within. Jesus’ joy is supernatural and it can’t be faked.

Jesus is a safe place to pour all my love and longing, my hopes and my dreams because when I abide in Him, He gives me more of Himself. Isn’t He just the Best?! I do love Him.

Linking up with Faith Filled Fridays

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