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.”
4 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.
5 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… 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
9 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.