Abiding (Or How To Keep Walking With Jesus…)

There are many definitions for the word “abide.” Here are some:  (1) To remain, continue, stay, (2) to have one’s abode, dwell, reside, (3) to continue in a particular position, attitude, or relationship, (4) to last, (5) to tolerate, put up with, endure.

Another word in modern English is “remain.’ Stay.

As you set out on the summer road trip with Jesus, talk as you walk, and begin by going over the first lesson learned. Stay with Jesus. No more running off. So Lord, how can I stay with You?

Let’s begin by looking at the word of God and The Spirit will reveal it.

The first thing to consider: why run in the first place? Let’s give the Spirit of God the floor. Some of these lessons may be something we have already gone over, but something that we need to hear again.

(Lord, please keep this simple so that all of us can remember it, knowing that You will bring anything we need to our minds.)

(1) Something else has caught my attention.” As I go with Jesus, there will be sparklers, firecrackers, booms, and fights all around me. Do you remember being in elementary school and a fight broke out on the playground? Somebody yelled, “FIGHT!’ and everyone ran to where the fight was happening so that everyone could watch! It was always a sight to behold. There they were: two people going at it with all their heart and fists. Until a teacher pulled them apart and marched them inside the schoolhouse. People are drawn to excitement, and those who are manic right now (after all, it is summer) are drawn to excitement like a magnet.

The enemy knows exactly what will distract you and the very second you agree to a road trip with Jesus, he begins to pull out the stops. The thing that entices you to divert your attention will sometimes immediately happen when the enemy sees that you are serious about everything regarding Jesus. The Spirit is telling you these things up front, so watch out and pay attention.

“So, Lord, what can I do to ignore this?” Remain in prayer. Remember that prayer is in your backpack and is vital. We must continually be in communication with The Spirit. God’s word says, “Pray continually,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17.) Doesn’t this sound so puny? Such a short statement to such a problem. Well, when distractions occur, do you automatically yell out for Jesus’ help? Chances are, you don’t, but plow on ahead and run to the distraction. To stop this, cry out to Jesus…yes, be a “tattle-tale” to Jesus. He knew it was coming, He saw it, He never leaves your side. When distractions happen and you realize what’s going on, cry for help as soon as possible. Pay attention, for you will get help and get help quickly. Just watch.

(2) I am becoming bored because this isn’t as exciting as what’s happening in the world. Yes, one problem with staying with Jesus is that the distractions look so fun. Walking with Jesus just isn’t as fun as something else that I could be doing, running around the earth with gusto and glee and playing around the camps that seem to be having a party. This walking trip isn’t as crazy-loud and as fun as what’s going on next-door.

“So, Lord, tell me the truth about what I’m seeing that looks so fun.” God tells us that what we see is a lie. God can NOT lie to us. If He did, He would not be Holy…and He is Holy. Lies are born of the enemy, because Jesus Himself called the enemy “…a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44.) God (Father, Son, and Spirit) loves us too much to tell us anything but the truth. Do not believe what you see, little lamb, because once you get over that fence you will understand that not only is the grass not as green as it looked (it’s almost black,) but that it tastes really terrible. Too many who have gone before (both alive and now in heaven) have tried it and testify: do not go over that fence!

God’s word says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 What do we do then? Cry out to Jesus! He never tires of your crying out – again in this situation, ask Him for help.

(3) I am just too tired to walk.” Are these thoughts running around your mind: “I thought I’d like to do this with Jesus, but honestly, now that we’re walking, I realize that I am just too tired to go on this trip, because I need a break from church stuff.” Often in the summertime we are ready for a break with “church stuff;” we are tired of the demands and thinking about it all. So we associate going on a road trip with Jesus as more “church stuff.” More demands, more thinking about church work.

“Lord, You know I am tired mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I need a break, so what do You have to say about that?” Guess what? There is amazing and wonderful news for you! Abundant life is about being with Jesus, enjoying His Presence, not about “church stuff!”  You are hereby relieved of associating Jesus with “church work.” YAY, GOD! Doesn’t that feel awesome? Christ asks us “to be.” He is I AM and we are “to be” in the Spirit. And the work that we do (with Him – by the way,) is born out of our being with Him. First, we are “to be” … to be enjoying His Presence every day. Any work we do with Jesus is done out of love for Him. The road trip is about hanging out with Jesus this summer, not about work. 

God’s word says, “…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31  One definition of hope is “a person (in this case Person – capital “P”) in which expectations are centered.” God is our Hope. So we center our expectations on the Person Of God – Father, Son, and Spirit. Hope is expecting Him to move all around us – to be with us, to speak to us, to listen to us, to live with us, to have fun with us, to cry with us, to do life with us.

What do we do then? Again, cry out to Jesus! He said to expect to see Him because He IS with us. Right now, as you read? He is beside you. He never leaves you. Hang with Him, sister! Hang with Him, brother! He created you so that you can enjoy His Presence! Do your life with Him, and you will be amazed! 

How to abide, then? How to keep walking with Jesus on this road trip? Stay in communication with every step.

Here is what the Spirit is telling everyone on the road trip: “Keep talking as you keep walking! (See the first sentence in paragraph 3. God answered at the very beginning of this post! Don’t you just love the way God does things?)

Scripture to ponder: John 15 (the entire chapter — read it!) 

Today’s weapon: “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7     

The Comfort of Jesus’ Staff

As soon as we set out on our summer road-trip, the freedom got the best of me and I ran down a side path by myself. Have you ever done this?

It’s summer. I’m on the edge of being manic and am trying to pay attention — haven’t totally fallen off the edge and won’t, if I stay close to The Spirit. He knows how to deal with mania and how to use it to His glory. So I danced down this path that looked really interesting and then I was hit with a bad cold that made me stop and slow down. Even with the cold it’s taken a while to get back to the group.

So I left our group for reasons that I don’t understand. The sun was shining so bright. The birds were singing in the trees and there before me was a path that looked green and lush. So down it I went, thinking that I’d be right back, and in time the green lushness turned to dry brown leaves and ugliness. There was a stench in the air that just wasn’t right and I realized that I was by myself down this path. What? How on earth did this happen?

Boom! I got sick. I felt really yucky and then slowly, slowly, came back to feeling better. I am not at 100% yet, but almost there. And now I understand. The Spirit has shown me the picture. The experience has left me reeling.

The cold was the hook of Jesus’ staff. While I complained some, and fussed about it, in hindsight I see what He did and praise Him for it. Yay, God! He slowed me down when I ramped up and in doing so, He showed me several things that I had picked up along this path and put in my backpack. 

The staff of Jesus. A beautiful tool in the Hands of our Master. 

Phillip Kellor, in his book “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23” said it clearly:

“The shepherd’s staff is normally a long, slender stick, often with a crook or hook on one end. It is selected with care by the owner; it is shaped, smoothed, and cut to best suit his own personal use.

Somehow the staff is of special comfort to the shepherd himself. In the tough tramps and during the long weary watches with his sheep, he leans on it for support and strength. It becomes to him a most precious comfort and help in his duties.

There are three areas of sheep management in which the staff plays a most significant role. The first of these lies in drawing sheep together into an intimate relationship. The shepherd will use his staff to gently lift a newborn lamb and bring it to its mother if they become parted. He does this because he does not wish to have the ewe reject her offspring if it bears the odor of his hands upon it.

…the staff is used by the shepherd to reach out and catch individual sheep, young or old, and draw them close to himself for intimate examination. The staff is very useful this way for the shy and timid sheep normally tend to keep at a distance from the shepherd.

The staff is also used for guiding sheep. Again and again I have seen a shepherd use his staff to guide his sheep gently into a new path or through some gate or along dangerous, difficult routes. He does not use it actually to beat the beast. Rather, the tip of the long slender stick is laid gently against the animal’s side and the pressure applied guides the sheep in the way the owner wants it to go. Thus the sheep is reassured of its proper path.

Being stubborn creatures sheep often get into the most ridiculous and preposterous dilemmas. I have seen my own sheep, greedy for one more mouthful of green grass, climb down steep cliffs where they slipped and fell into the sea. Only my long shepherd’s staff could lift them out of the water back onto solid ground.

Another common occurrence was to find sheep stuck fast in labyrinths of wild roses or brambles where they had pushed in to find a few stray mouthfuls of green grass. Soon the thorns were so hooked in their wool they could not possibly pull free, tug as they might. Only the use of the staff could free them from their entanglement.”

That last paragraph? Well, that was me. I am slowly coming back to life. My goodness, right out of the gate, running off like that. I don’t know what happened, did I figure on writing about that path? Eww…nothing there to write about. Anyway, just know that any path that you go down by yourself will prove awful. If Jesus doesn’t lead you there, don’t go!  As I pay attention to Christ I do hope to not do this again. I am taking all the nonsensical items that I collected for my backpack and removing them. They smell like the path I took them from, eww.

So today on our summer road trip, do you find yourself off on a strange path? When you look around do you see that you’ve also left the group and wandered off? I pray for you now, that God will stop you with His Shepherd’s staff. That bit of a nudge that you feel? That’s The Spirit touching you and guiding you to get back with the group. He will take that crook and actually pick you up – carrying you to where you are supposed to be. Allow Him to bring you back. Jesus catches us when we fall. Remember Peter? When he started to sink in the sea after walking out to Jesus, immediately beside him was The Lord, pulling him back up to safety!

Take this day and celebrate with The Spirit whether you have left the group or not. Celebrate the amazing truth that you can’t go anywhere at all without His Presence. When you get in the craziest places, there He is right beside you. Submit to the Shepherds staff. Let this day be a day of worship in your heart, praising the Only One who loves you enough to bring you back. He will never let you go; you never leave His sight. Wow…what amazing love!

Scripture to ponder: Psalm 23

Today’s weapon:  “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4  

Please Stay Tuned…

So sorry that I haven’t written the next installment on this blog. I have been sick with a bad and lingering cold. There was more in store for me when I wrote about God being in total control, directing our steps, telling us when to go and when to stop.

I’m trying to get over this thing…it’s still hanging on a bit. I’m coming along, doing lots better, but still need to rest. I guess I was more worn out than I thought; my resistance is really low.  I will post the next installment as God directs…may He be greatly glorified in peaks and valleys alike.  Stay tuned.

Keep walking on your journey, following the lead of our LORD!

I love you all…    Ivy