The Fruit of Abiding

There are a couple topics I love to talk about. Get me started, and I can give you an excited, impromptu sermon about abiding, and the fruit of the spirit; but I don’t know if I’ve ever brought the two together like this before.

When I was about nine or ten years old, my dad and I were talking about the scripture that says, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” Dad asked me if I knew what “abide” meant. My definition came from context, and I confidently said, “It means ‘sink into.’” I had a picture in my mind of myself relaxing completely, sinking safely into God’s chest and him holding me there. So, read the following scripture with that in mind; each time you read “abide in” think “sink into.” 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, 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, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing… By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:4-5, 8-11 (NKJV)

“Sink into me and I’ll sink into you…” More was done in me from a year of abiding than from decades of striving. 

To this day, the sense of absolute rest and sinking into his presence comes to mind when I hear about abiding in God. It’s significant that Jesus uses this term to talk about our life in the vine and fruitfulness. Those few verses are brimming with significance and intentionality!

The other topic, the fruit of the spirit, is found in Galatians 5:22-23. This became a huge part of the rebuilding God did in my life over a span of about ten years; healing, stabilizing, and strengthening me, giving me mile markers on my journey. It wasn’t until about 2017 when I was writing up my journey for a testimony I was asked to give, that I suddenly recognized that each of the mile markers was one of the fruits listed in Galatians 5. 

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

In the early 2000’s, I was terribly broken. As God began to rebuild my foundation, he helped me learn patience with myself. I had to forgive myself for not being what I thought I should be, for not being as strong as I thought I should have been, for not healing as quickly as I thought I should, and especially for breaking in the first place. If you go through this with yourself, you’ll understand how this kind of tender patience comes from learning how to love yourself. The patience was an expression of the love I was learning to receive from God. I couldn’t receive that love without the patience that was a fruit of abiding in him. As I sank into and was enveloped by Jesus, the fruit of patience grew and ripened. Striving had to stop. Striving and patience are at odds with one another, so I had to give up striving for my healing, making room for a loving patience with myself. That patience brought more healing and grew to a natural, rather than a forced patience with those around me.

A few years later, when patience had become a part of me, the peace of God began to fall on me like a heavy blanket of fresh snow. It covered everything in me and around me, softening hard edges and leaving a beautiful sparkle across my landscape. It overwhelmed me with its intensity. Overwhelming peace became the marker of that time in my life. I could see the need for such peace all around me. I walked through life praying for that peace to overwhelm others in my path. 

I knew from the depths of my heart that people were being put in my way so I could share this fruit with them.  Just as patience wasn’t something I could force into being, peace was the natural fruit that came of abiding, sinking into Jesus. That fruit had such a bountiful harvest that I had to share it. I couldn’t keep it all to myself or it would go to waste. As I shared it, more fruit was produced.  

Not long after patience and peace were established like fruit trees in my spiritual orchard, love was added; rows and rows of it! I had been saved since I was five, and I had a beautiful relationship with my heavenly Father, but I had never experienced his love like I did in that season. It was a period of about three months in which I felt a spiritual high from a tangible, profound awareness of God’s love for me. Again, I was overwhelmed, and again I had to share it! People needed to understand and be touched in the very bottom of their hearts by the love of God. Just a touch is life changing!

 As I learned to abide and sink into the Lord, my fruit became a consistent presence. Patience, peace, and love had become part of my inner atmosphere. They didn’t come for a time and leave. They laid the groundwork for more fruit.

Here’s one of the most beautiful, paradoxical parts of my journey. When my husband was in the hospital waiting for a terrible surgery because of cancer, God dropped joy on us. The hospital room was filled with joy like a confetti bomb had gone off. That joy carried me through the nine months that my husband had remaining. I will probably never find the words to describe or explain how joy and peace blasted through one scary diagnosis after another. I was being upheld by the Lord through it all and continuing afterward through grieving and recovering; through life changes where I had no choice but to go forward. Joy could not have been my mainstay all that time without it being the fruit of abiding. It remains the fruit from which I operate today. 

I look back and know without any shadow of doubt that the fruit of patience, peace, love, and joy only became full harvests as I learned to abide in God. When God does the work, there is no striving.

The last part of the verse used to really confuse me. 

Against such there is no law. 

Galatians 5:23

What’s that supposed to mean? Finally, I heard an explanation that brought a whole new revelation. There is no spiritual or natural law that can stand against the fruit we gain through abiding in the vine. The fruit that comes from abiding is a permeating atmosphere, not a memorized and wielded weapon that we take out and put away. Just as God is Love, he is Joy, he is Peace, and he is Patience, the fruit becomes a part of who and what we are. We can’t put away who we are. 

When trials of life come, they are met with who we have become. Peace was no longer something outside myself that I quoted scripture about in order to combat chaos and fear. Peace was a wall within me that chaos and fear got smashed against. The fruit of love was a backbone of strength, like a ramrod that could not be shaken. Patience now helps me to look at a trial stretching in front of me without worry or care. It will end when it ends, and in the meantime I have a new chance to grow. As the time stretches out and growth and pruning take place, joy surrounds me every day. It’s who I am. From ashes, my life has become a beautiful relief. 

Have you come to complete abandonment, sinking into God, and letting him sink into you? Can you identify fruit of abiding within yourself? Yours will be your own, and it will be your foundation and establish you in who you are and who you are called to be. There is nothing that can come against you that can stand against living from the fruit of abiding in God. we are meant to live in this victory. This is the adventure in God.

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Skepticism or Faith?

This is a little observation I made a few days ago while reading Mark 5; the story of the demoniac delivered of a legion of demons. Here’s what stood out to me, from the Wuest Expanded Translation (WET) (Emphasis mine.)

And they came for the purpose of seeing what had taken place. And they come to Jesus and view with a critical, searching eye the demoniac sitting, clothed, and in control of himself, the one who had had the legion.  And they became afraid… And they began to be begging Him to go away from their boundaries. 

Mark 5:14-17 (WET)

When we come with a critical, searching (skeptical) eye, we fear what we find, so much so that we push God away. When we come in faith, with an eye to see what great thing God is doing, we find amazing and awesome things; things that get us cheering and excited for more, and make us trust him more. Rather than pushing Him away, we welcome his spirit to invade our fears. 

Next, Jesus got into the boat to leave, and of course, the man he had delivered wanted to go with him. Here’s how Jesus answered.

Go home to your friends, and tell them how great things the Lord has done for you, and has had compassion on you.

Mark 5:19 (KJV)

I love this answer. God delivers us out of his compassion for us, and he wants us to share it. Jesus said he only does what he sees the Father doing. If we take that seriously, we have to ask what he saw. Jesus saw the compassion of the Father.

Perhaps the reason we sometimes miss out on seeing God’s compassion in action is because we don’t look through the eyes of faith and trust, but with critical, skeptical eyes that lead to fear. Perfect love casts out fear. 

We can’t be critical and skeptical and find evidence of love and compassion. 

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13 (NKJV)

We can see the awesome things God is doing out of his great love and compassion for the world if we will embrace looking for His goodness in the land of the living; turning our backs on skepticism and a critical spirit.  When we turn our eyes to look fully on the face of Jesus, those things melt away and our hearts are opened to his compassion.

I want to see the evidence of the love and compassion of God every day, everywhere. That’s how we do what we see the Father doing. I want such a lifestyle to be my daily life. It’s possible!

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This is Believing. This is Faith.

2019 was the year I started on this journey. “Believe” was my Word. It did not go as I expected. Rather than a wonderfully victorious race, it was a year of slow and painful deconstructing of old beliefs and a laying of true foundations. It left me wrung out and off balance. Most recently, a deeply entrenched, old church teaching about faith and believing got the heave-ho. Continue reading

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God Is

God is vast–beyond the universe kind of vast. And yet, we make him so small–smaller than ourselves. People seem to think that God stands over us demanding we “get it right” before he’ll bestow his goodness and love. That just isn’t true. His love and his goodness are all around us, even within us, available to us at all times. Somehow, we miss it. We don’t know how to see or experience his presence as we were created to do.

 

I’ve mentioned before that I suffered from depression for most of my life, desperately wanting to be free; and I’ve shared that after many years of seeking freedom and a long, heart-wrenching process, when I was finally delivered and healed, I experienced a freedom I never imagined could be mine. But here’s the thing. God didn’t just bring freedom to me; he became freedom in me. Continue reading

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Expect Something Different

“Expect something different.” I wrote that at the top of a page in my junk-drawer-journal; that spiral bound thing that has menus, budget figuring, floor plan ideas, shopping lists, thoughts and study notes, and scribbles from Eowynn. Every time I’m flipping through looking for a recipe idea or some random note and I see those words, “Expect something different,” it grips my soul. It hit me today; this is a vital piece in my journey to Believe! (I realize this may have been obvious, but that’s just how far I have to go!)

This is where believing in theory becomes a mindset change. Continue reading

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Can You Believe This Freedom?!

“God said it and now he’s doing it. It’s no afterthought; he’s always known he would do this.” Acts 15:18

This is too perfect to not share on Independence Day. That’s what the Apostle James said to the group of church leaders when they were making a pivotal decision about Gentiles and salvation; about our freedom. Continue reading

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Father’s Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It’s a hard day for me now, so to tame the struggle, I want to honor three fathers; my dad, my husband, and my son. My dad showed me many things—honesty, integrity, devotion to family—but most important to me, running like a golden ribbon through my life, is to worship and love God at home, when no one else was around. Continue reading

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Adventures in Believing

A lot has happened in these two months, but most involved other people’s stories that I don’t feel free to share. I’ve been privileged to share God with people, and show the love of Christ in a boldness and confidence I’m accepting as part of this new journey, part of the me that I’m becoming. I can’t see the “after” pic or where I’ll end up.  Where I’m going doesn’t show on my map.

Something quite new is working on my first message/sermon, and it’s been difficult. I love writing, but I haven’t done any public speaking in so many years, that I can’t even remember. I desperately want to share what’s on my heart, what God has given me victory in and authority over. I’m so excited, but I keep starting and scrapping each draft. Just recently, I finally got on a track that is flowing and the words are falling into place.

Every song and teaching I hear point me in the same direction and build lesson upon lesson. I know I am due for some soaking time with God. I need to let all that learning soak into my heart and soul. I need that quiet time with God to just rest and abide in his presence. Do you have a radar that tells you you’re running low and you need to get back in? I’ve been playing it safe, staying on my map in wonderful, new, but still familiar territory.

One thing God has been impressing on me lately has clicked into a complete, understandable thought just last week is that I will not survive the future he has for me if I do not abide in him and live from a lifestyle of abiding. I can’t jump into his presence when the need arises. I mean, I can continue to live that way, but not if I want to reach my dreams and the fullness of his promises to me. I’ll need to start full, because I’m not going to be able to plan for those opportunities; they’ll fall on me when I’m not looking. Living from that place of abiding is part of  my dream life, but now it’s time to take that seriously. No more dabbling. Time to make the move. I spend lots of time studying and praying; lots and lots of time! But now, it’s time to turn off the outside distractions, the words from my own mind, and just dwell in his spirit and let him do the talking.

I’m ready to walk off my map.

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Believing in Freedom

I’m continuing on this journey with Believe as my companion. It’s a blast! I think any time we know we’re learning and growing, we have the opportunity to rest in Joy. I’ve had some weird and disturbing things happen, not big things, but just…unsettling. I’ve put them in my saddlebag and continued forward. I’ll get them out later when I make camp for longer than a night.

I know I say “God showed me” a lot, but honestly, I feel dishonest and arrogant saying that I “realized” something if it came to me when God and I were talking. Continue reading

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Believing in Words Fulfilled

Back in 1994 or thereabouts, I received a prophecy that set me on a course to becoming a different person. Strike that. It set me on a course to becoming the person God created, the person I truly am. Continue reading

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