The word abide is hard for me. I just don’t get it. Not the definition, that’s easy (especially with Google). 

I know what it means (to “stay put” or “actively remain”), but Jesus made it sound like it’s one of the most important—and maybe THE most important—thing(s) we can do to experience true joy and make a difference in the world (which he called bearing fruit). 

But we’re not socialized to abide. We’ve been trained to make things HAPPEN. We’ve been taught to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps. We’ve been challenged with pressure-inducing phrases that often lead to bad decisions like, “God can’t steer a parked ship” or “God helps those who help themselves.” And then there’s Jesus, calling us to simply “abide” in him and his love in order to “bear much fruit.” There’s Jesus inviting us to discover that his “…power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). 

To abide in God’s love may be one of Jesus’ most counter-cultural yet life-giving invitations for today! Because how the heck does “abiding” fit into our “git-R-done” and go-for-it world? 

One of the things I find helpful when I struggle to get my head around an idea, is to think of the other words I could use to describe the same idea.  

So let’s look at a few words that could be used to define abide, and how they may help us discover the life-giving joy Jesus offers for today. 



Rest. The weekly rhythm in the Bible includes a day of rest, they called it “Sabbath.” For us, it can be as simple as sleeping in, turning off screens for a day, and doing something we really enjoy. For God, it meant taking time to enjoy the creation he had just finished. 



Wait. Take a sec and look up the phrase “Wait on the Lord” in the Bible. Yep, there are quite a few references that describe the amazing benefits of not moving ahead too quickly, but waiting on God to lead. Talk about a critique of the cultural idea to get moving because ‘God can’t steer a parked ship!’ Instead, maybe it’s wiser to wait for God to lead. (Isaiah 40:31; Ps 27:14)



Remain. Success in the Bible is often defined as faithfulness in whatever God puts before us (Luke 12:42-48). This can be as simple as doing a good job at work, cleaning up a living space, or caring for a friend. It also means trusting God enough to end a workday on time, and lean into other life-giving parts of life. 



Relax. Don’t worry about tomorrow! Today has its own problems. And one of the best ways to push back against anxiousness is to take a few deep breaths, and meditate on Matthew 6:25-34 for as long as it takes. Seriously, take a few minutes right now to read this passage, and feel the peacefulness roll over you as you read.



Chill. When I chill with friends, it means we sit around a bonfire and chat (or sometimes we just sit). To chill with God doesn’t have to look any different. A few minutes of prayer quiets both the heart and the mind, and helps us depend more on God. And if you don’t have anything to say in prayer? Just be quiet, and trust that God is with you even if there are no words. 


Pause for a moment and think about how freeing it is that Jesus invites us NOT to try harder or do more, but simply to abide in him—to rest, wait, remain, relax, and chill in his love. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t do anything. In fact, check out the passage where Jesus invites us to “abide” in him, and notice the word “obey.” He said, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love…” But before we let the word “obey” make us squirm—that obedience is not tied to a list of overwhelming rules, and Jesus’ commands are not the ultimatums of a demanding parent requiring strict obedience to be accepted and loved. We love because he first loved us. God did the work first. He showed love first. And the obedience he calls us to is rooted in his love for us, and is aimed at others. Jesus even took all of the “commands” and summarized them based on love—to love God and love others. 

So throw off the pressure to perform to make God happy, and accept the invitation God offers to abide in him and experience his love. You are not a human doing, you are human BeInG—Be In God. Is that a bit cheesy? Yes. Is it embarrassingly cheesy? Maybe. But will you remember it? It helped me!

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:9-11, NLT)