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. 2 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. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 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
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
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