I want to orient my life around Jesus Christ. In fact, the older I get, the more aware I become that every minute of every day takes intentional, beautiful effort to remain in him (Jn 15:4).
As I am working out a new schedule for this new year, there is one tension that tends to stand out among the rest of the tensions I manage in order to seek or sustain a healthy life. This is the tension that lies within the interconnected paradox of being and doing, abiding and obeying, loving and acting, connecting and producing.
A necessary part of adulting is doing, working, and executing tasks. Many of us have learned about time management, energy management, organizational skills, etc. Still, rarely do we plan for the amount of abiding that is required to execute all of those tasks fruitfully. As His beloved, I want to bear fruit that is “lasting” and to my Father’s glory (Jn 15:8, 16). Without the Source of Life and Love itself coursing through my veins, fueling all that I do, I can bear “no fruit” (John 15:5).
It takes energy to do and it takes energy to abide. Both are active. Both are ineffective one without the other.
So, let us plan not only our tasks but also our strategy to abide!
PLAN TO ABIDE
Look at your goals, your schedule, your daily, weekly, monthly, or annual to do’s… How, dear one, are you going to stay connected to your Savior so that He is intimately involved in the execution of each one (each task that is in line with His will for your life)?
“But you, my delightfully loved friends, constantly and progressively build yourselves up on the foundation of your most holy faith by praying every moment in the Spirit. Fasten your hearts to the love of God and receive the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us eternal life.” (Jude 20-21)
Here are a few ideas as you plan to abide, to fasten your hearts to the love of God, this year:
- SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: Look over lists of spiritual disciplines and adopt daily, weekly, or monthly practices that bring you back to His love. (I keep a roster, small notebook actually, so I don’t have to choose the same one every time. Thank you, Aaron Neiquist, for inspiring that helpful hint in “The Eternal Current.”) (Resources for the current, a list of spiritual disciplines)
- GOD’S WORD: Find meaningful ways to “consume” His living Word. Sometimes that means not consuming other things like media and entertainment, even food, so your mind has space to grab hold of God’s life-giving Word and abiding truth. (A quiet time a little earlier in the morning with your Bible and a candle to represent God’s presence with you, a daily verse to meditate on as you do the dishes or another mindless task, or listen to an audio bible as you drive or exercise.)
- COMMUNITY: Meet with someone, or talk on the phone, regularly if possible, who speaks to your soul and inspires you to be closer with Jesus. Find someone else who radiates with God’s love and it will become infectious.
- NATURE: Winter, where I live, is not easy for taking walks, but there are still ways to get out and breathe that crisp fresh air and marvel at all that He has made. Plan to spend time in nature weekly or monthly as another way to abide in Him.
This year, God is asking me to carve out more time for Scripture memorization – which is SO CHALLENGING to me!!! This means less downtime with my brain on cruise control, and more steady, engaged meditation on God’s Word throughout the entirety of each day. Yikes, I have a lot of work to do!
MANAGING THE TENSION
What happens when the tension is out of balance? When you know the tasks at hand are greater than your capacity to remain in Him, or when your abiding outweighs the number of good works you are contributing to the world around you?
Keeping in step with his Spirit often requires discerning the season.
Is God asking you to scale back some of the doing, so you can work on your connectedness with Him? Is something keeping you from Him that He wants to unveil and expose for the benefit of your unity? Is that sweet small voice beckoning you into silence and solitude so your dry, thirsty soul can return to the living waters of everlasting life?
OR, is God asking you to do more than you feel capable of this year, in order to expand your capacity for abiding in Him? Is He calling you out, putting your hands to the plow, saying, “Trust me. I am here. I am with you. Keep moving. Stay Connected. We’re in this together.” He has plans to establish the work of your hands and multiply the fruit.
OR, maybe you feel full, capable of both working and abiding, and yet pruned this January? Did he shut the gates and close the doors, saying, “Sit and wait.” Take time to dream, to let your prophetic imagination roam… Maybe there’s something new on the horizon? Maybe He’s nurturing your spirit in the dark night…
ALIGNING FOR KINGDOM PURPOSES
Though we encounter so many seasons on this journey of faith, we can use each one to build our capacity for both abiding and producing to the glory of God. When you build your capacity to abide, your tasks become aligned with God’s purposes and plan for your life, and therefore infused with energy and passion!
Both are necessary to the Way of Jesus. We become and we do, we abide and obey, we love and we act, we connect and produce.