Pick up your Bible and slowly read John 15:1-9. Notice what word, image, or emotion is being highlighted for you as you do?
Where will the Spirit of God work with you breathing life through it right now?
Being in a close relationship with Jesus is the answer. The root of our desires and deepest human needs is to grow in connection with Him. Throughout Scripture, you see a Creator God who doesn’t make people change but simply keeps revealing His heart toward us and His way forward for human flourishment. It's all about this one life-giving relationship and all that will grow out from it for His Kingdom.
We can practice and learn how to live, trusting the goodness and provision of His Spirit, or attempt to manage life in our way. We can practice abiding in Him or distract ourselves with other things. We all do a little of both, but we’re created to become more connected to Him in everything. He’s where life is.
Abiding in Jesus looks like practicing staying connected to His heart, wherever we are, in whatever we do. To do that, we also have to stay connected to ours. Most of us don’t intentionally disconnect from Him, so we need questions and signals for when we do. How am I? What’s happening in me right now? How can I lean into Him in this moment instead of pulling away?
Simply put, part of abiding in Him is growing in awareness of when we’re not.
It’s seeing sides of ourselves that we couldn’t see before and rejoicing with the hope that He’s right here helping us. Our thoughts about people and things, our heart and its emotions, and our attitudes and perspectives all get invited to be cared for and guided on the vine by the Spirit. One of the most basic ways to see that something about us is disconnected from Him is experiencing a lack of peace and a presence of frustration. In a moment like this, we already have the invitation to lean into who He is and our need for life from Him. It’s a choice. We avoid Him or stay and embrace His power and healing. It’s easy to allow pride or pain take over and form our emotions and thoughts more than Jesus. God knows this will happen to us at times, quicker than we can even realize it. We need to be graced and enabled by His Spirit to accurately, honestly assess the condition of our soul through eyes of love without judgment and without taking over or giving up but letting Him slowly, with great care, do what needs to be done.
The other part of growth in awareness is getting to know the depths of His heart!
We start knowing more about this new life in Christ as we embrace a personal connection with Him. We experience hope! We start sensing attributes like gentleness, joy, faithfulness, and peace in ways we didn’t know were possible! We become different. We become like Him. We continue becoming fully who He created us to be. We get to experience fellowship with Him and be led by Him in relationships and decisions. We connect with others in healthier, supportive, loving ways too. I’m slowly seeing that learning comes for and from each other, through both failure and success together, and new life comes from being connected to Jesus. If each of us connect to Jesus, we’ll have something great to give when we gather together.
Practice staying connected to His heart. Notice when you're not and experience Him more. Choose to embrace an abiding life and let Him guide. Place and position yourself openly, desiring to receive the fruit of transformation, ready to gratefully receive His tending. Only then will we truly experience the fullness of life He created us to live. Here are a few questions and suggestions if you need help taking a step.
What kind of place, people, and pace help give you a way to stay close as He grows you more on His vine?
How might you open up and connect with His presence and love more or in a totally new way?
Daily Stillness... Sit down with the Lord. Read Scripture, pray, and offer yourself to Him in personal reflection.
Nature… Turn off what distracts you and take a slow, contemplative walk. Enjoy His nearness through the beauty of His creation.
Mid-Day Examen… How are you, mind, body, and soul? Stop to do a self-check, promoting awareness of how you’re doing and functioning. Be completely honest with yourself and allow His character to change you however you need to.
Spiritual Direction… Schedule a regular check-in for deeper reflection, sharing, and support on your journey.
We’re people who are continually being formed, and we’re formed by what we’re most connected to. May we be a people who desire to be deeply connected to Jesus.