When your faith is a little tired, and you’re tired of resolutions

I remember the first time I heard Jesus calling my name. I was sixteen, and listening to our preacher speak of Jesus Christ’s love as I had so many times before in that little church when I felt a tug at my heart.

“My darling, it is time for you to come.” .

It was a simple sentence consisting of just a few words, but I knew they would change the course of my life. So I went forward, as many ahead of me have done, confessing my sins and believing in the name of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior that day.

It was a wonderful experience, but the feelings of joy and love that I felt during those first few weeks for Jesus have slowly waned. It’s not that I like Jesus less now—I love him more than I ever have before in my life.

Yet I keep struggling with same old issues, never really growing up and out of my old self and my old ways like the bible says I should. I don’t think I’m alone in this boat, for so many of us start the journey with grand promise, only to end it frustrated, tired, and falling short.

I can specifically recall when Israel, after leaving Egypt and miraculously crossing the Red Sea were promised that they would enter Canaan and claim it as their inheritance. . .

Only they didn’t because their lack of faith. They wandered around in the desert for 40 years, circling aimlessly about, so close to their promised land, and yet never actually claiming it.

Those people died out there in the desert, and though I have no desire to repeat their steps, I’m also not sure how to avoid them.

Each year for the past few years, my husband has read a book every January called Abide in Christ, by Andrew Murray. This year I’ve decided to read along with him, and this book is already starting to reshape my thoughts about why I can’t seem to move into the full grace of Jesus.

Andrew Murray writes that the issue isn’t in our coming to Jesus. The issue arises when we wander away from Jesus. Whether it was of our own choosing, or simply that we were never taught how to permanently live with Jesus. The answer to this lies In the gospel of John, chapter 15:1-5

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches.

 

Here I am, a decade into my relationship with Jesus, and where there should be roots, branches, and fruit– I fear there are only withering branches. If you’re tired and worn out, discouraged in your faith, perhaps the answer isn’t New Year Resolutions, or new goals, or new lists of how you’ll be a better Christian, a better spouse, a better whatever. Perhaps the answer to our spiritual disease and fatigue is far more simple. If this is you- I’ve included an excerpt of Andrew Murray’s Abide in Me below, and I’d suggest picking up a copy of it for yourself or buying it on audio.

Already my soul feels more nourished. And I’m only two days in. Rest in Jesus can do that to a soul. Will do that to a soul. He has promised.

“Come unto me.”–MATT.11:28

“Abide in me.”–JOHN 15:4

IT IS to you who have heard and hearkened to the

call, “Come unto me,” that this new invitation

comes, “Abide in me.” The message comes from

the same loving Saviour. You doubtless have never

repented having come at His call. You experienced

that His word was truth; all His promises He

fulfilled; He made you partakers of the blessings

and the joy of His love. Was not His welcome most

hearty, His pardon full and free, His love most

sweet and precious? You more than once, at your

first coming to Him,

 had reason to say, “The half

was not told me.”

And yet you have had to complain of

disappointment: as time went on, your

expectations were not realized. The blessings you

once enjoyed were lost; the love and joy of your

first meeting with your Saviour, instead of

deepening, have become faint and feeble. And

often you have wondered what the reason could

be, that with such a Saviour, so mighty and so

loving, your experience of salvation should not

have been a fuller one.

The answer is very simple. You wandered from

Him. The blessings He bestows are all connected

with His “Come to ME,” and are only to be enjoyed

in close fellowship with Himself. You either did

not fully understand, or did not rightly remember,

that the call meant, “Come to me to stay with me.”

And yet this was in very deed His object and

purpose when first He called you to Himself. It

was not to refresh you for a few short hours after

your conversion with the joy of His love and

deliverance, and then to send you forth to wander

in sadness and sin. He had destined you to

something better than a short-lived blessedness, to

be enjoyed only in times of special earnestness

and prayer, and then to pass away, as you had to

return to those duties in which far the greater part

of life has to be spent. No, indeed; He had

prepared for you an abiding dwelling with

Himself, where your whole life and every moment

of it might be spent, where the work of your daily

life might be done, and where all the while you

might be enjoying unbroken communion with

Himself. It was even this He meant when to that

first word, “Come to me,” He added this, “Abide in

me.” As earnest and faithful, as loving and tender,

as the compassion that breathed in that blessed

“Come,” was the grace that added this no less

blessed “Abide.” As mighty as the attraction with

which that first word drew you, were the bonds

with which this second, had you but listened to it,

would have kept you. And as great as were the

blessings with which that coming was rewarded,

so large, yea, and much greater, were the treasures

to which that abiding would have given you

access.

And observe especially, it was not that He said,

“Come to me and abide with me,” but, “Abide in

me.” The intercourse was not only to be unbroken,

but most intimate and complete. He opened His

arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His

heart, to welcome you there; He opened up all His

divine fullness of life and love, and offered to take

you up into its fellowship, to make you wholly one

with Himself. There was a depth of meaning you

can not yet realize in His words: “Abide IN ME.”

And with no less earnestness than He had cried,

“Come to me,” did He plead, had you but noticed it,

“Abide in me.” By every motive that had induced

you to come, did He beseech you to abide. Was it

the fear of sin and its curse that first drew you?

the pardon you received on first coming could,

with all the blessings flowing from it, only be

confirmed and fully enjoyed on abiding in Him.

Was it the longing to know and enjoy the Infinite

Love that was calling you? the first coming gave

but single drops to taste–’tis only the abiding that

can really satisfy the thirsty soul, and give to drink

of the rivers of pleasure that are at His right hand.

Was it the weary longing to be made free from the

bondage of sin, to become pure and holy, and so to

find rest, the rest of God for the soul? this too can

only be realized as you abide in Him–only abiding

in Jesus gives rest in Him. Or if it was the hope of

an inheritance in glory, and an everlasting home

in the presence of the Infinite One: the true

preparation for this, as well as its blessed foretaste

in this life, are granted only to those who abide in

Him. In very truth, there is nothing that moved

you to come, that does not plead with

thousandfold greater force: “Abide in Him.” You

did well to come; you do better to abide. Who

would, after seeking the King’s palace, be content

to stand in the door, when he is invited in to dwell

in the King’s presence, and share with Him in all

the glory of His royal life? Oh, let us enter in and

abide, and enjoy to the full all the rich supply His

wondrous love hath prepared for us!

And yet I fear that there are many who have

indeed come to Jesus, and who yet have

mournfully to confess that they know but little of

this blessed abiding in Him. With some the reason

is, that they never fully understood that this was

the meaning of the Saviour’s call. With others, that

though they heard the word, they did not know

that such a life of abiding fellowship was possible,

and indeed within their reach. Others will say

that, though they did believe that such a life was

possible, and seek after it, they have never yet

succeeded discovering the secret of its attainment.

And others, again, alas! will confess that it is their

own unfaithfulness that has kept them from the

enjoyment of the blessing. When the Saviour

would have kept them, they were not found ready

to stay; they were not prepared to give up

everything, and always, only, wholly to abide in

Jesus.

There is

especially the question, with its various aspects, to

the possibility, in the midst of wearying work and

continual distraction, of keeping up, or rather

being kept in, the abiding communion. I do not

undertake to remove all difficulties; this Jesus

Christ Himself alone must do by His Holy Spirit.

But what I would fain by the grace of God be

permitted to do is, to repeat day by day the

Master’s blessed command, “Abide in me,” until it

enter the heart and find a place there, no more to

be forgotten or neglected. I would fain that in the

light of Holy Scripture we should Meditate on its

meaning, until the understanding, that gate to the

heart, opens to apprehend something of what it

offers and expects.

-Day 1 of Abide in Christ

 

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