I spotted my young friend sitting near me in church last week. She looked exhausted. I know she’s been in a busy season of life and having just lived through a frantic time myself I recognized the “I just can’t even stand up right now” look on her face.
I wanted to hold my friend tight and say, “Hang on, baby girl. You’re gonna make it.” I wanted to tell her the things I’d learned in my crazy season. I wanted her to know how much she is loved.
I’ve long known the importance of really spending time with God–not just reading the Bible or going to Bible study, but spending time in His presence. But somehow I’d forgotten, barely taking time to rest and certainly not taking time to rest in the Lord.
During this too-busy month I went to a women’s conference. Before I left for the conference I’d read this blog by my friend, Alan Pastian. He talked about how he deliberately sets aside time to be with Jesus. I’ve always admired that about him. As I read it I thought, “That’s a great idea. I need to do that. After I get home from my conference I’m going to figure out how to make this work.”
At a leadership dinner during the conference, speaker and writer Lysa TerKeurst shared about a time when she, too, was simply overwhelmed with life and responsibilities. Tears fell from my eyes as she shared how God met her in her craziness and called her to spend time alone with Him. How did she know her story was exactly what I needed to hear? And yet, I knew it was really an invitation from my Heavenly Father to come and spend some time in his presence.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28
Ah rest. I was so desperate for rest! After that conference my calendar wasn’t quite as full and I had time to relax a bit but to be honest, more of my time was spent sleeping than with Jesus. Eventually though I started my reconnect with God by simply listening to praise music and reading my Bible. Before long I was setting aside time for prayer (more than just “Dear Jesus, help me make it through this day”) and taking time to listen to God. It’s so much easier to hear God speak when I actually slow down and stop talking long enough to listen. Go figure.
When the lesson at Bible study a couple weeks later was about abiding in Christ I knew God was, once again, beckoning me to enter into his presence. How sweet it is to serve a God who cares so much for me that he makes a point of reminding me over and over again how much he wants to spend time with me! (One could also say he was trying to drive the point home, but I prefer to think of it as an invitation – and possibly a very strong suggestion.)
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-6
As my friend Laura (who was teaching the lesson) said, “a branch can’t bear much fruit if it is cut off from the vine, reattached, cut off and reattached over and over again.” The Greek word for abide is meno. It means to STAY, continue, dwell, be present, and tarry. Laura continued, “If you only show up to spend time with God in the trials you are visiting, not abiding.” Ouch! That one hit a little too close.
It’s true though, when we abide in Christ — dwelling in his presence, our life will be easier and less stressful. God longs to spend time with us. He invites us into his presence because he knows how hard it is for us to rest and stay focused on the important things. This is what I wanted to tell my young friend at church. Don’t forget to abide, sweet girl. It’s the only way to get through this.
How about you? Are you exhausted from constant busyness, endless responsibilities, and trying to please people instead of God? Can I encourage you to stop for just a bit (even just 15 minutes) and let the Lord of your life wrap you in his loving arms? Shhhh . . . just rest there for a bit and remember how much you are loved.
From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2