Trading My Agenda for Abiding in Jesus - iBelieve Truth - February 20, 2024

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“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1 ESV)

I’m a doer by nature. I love setting goals, scheduling, and keeping life tied up in a tidy little bow. But recently my goal-setting took on a life of its own. With all the good things I wanted to do, I gave myself a pep talk and convinced myself I could do it all, with a little help from my trusty goal-planner, of course. Soon, my morning prayer and Bible reading were pushed aside to make room for more steps toward reaching those goals.

I had become so accustomed to consulting the pages of my agenda at the start of each day that I didn’t realize how it affected my relationship with the Lord. Instead of waking up looking forward to spending a few minutes in God’s presence, I was reaching straight for my planner to see what needed to be done. My choice to start each day with my own strength began affecting every part of my life. I needed to be willing to set aside my agenda and learn to abide in Jesus.

Jesus emphasized the essence of abiding when he described himself as the vine and his followers as the branches. In John chapter 15, we see the word “abide” used several times. A deep look at the meaning behind Jesus’ message reveals this life-changing truth.

There’s no better place to be than abiding in him. Psalm 91:1 illustrates this truth well, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Jesus also knew our tendency toward striving, so in his message to his people, he added, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 

We can do nothing of value apart from Christ. Only average, tasteless fruit comes from a branch separated from the richness of his love.

I believe Jesus knew how hard it would be for us go-getter types to “abide.” We want to do good things and share the love of Jesus through serving others. But goals can become idols, stealing the focus of our hearts. The amazing truth I’ve discovered is that learning to abide in the Lord draws us into a deeper awareness of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. It helps us stay aligned with his will. God enjoys our fellowship with him, and in those precious times of awareness, our connection to him will grow in miraculous and unexpected ways.

One way we can learn to abide is by setting the planner down and sitting with God for a while. No prayer requests, no specific agenda, just spending time being present with the Creator of the universe. Sitting in God’s presence isn’t easy at first. It takes a continual return to total dependence. It means opening our hearts to what God wants to do in us, again and again and again. It involves picturing ourselves resting amidst the strong arms of a loving Father, as his shadow offers protection and respite.

The more we learn to abide, the more we will long to abide. So before we return to our to-do lists for the day, let’s commit to spending time simply abiding. Even five minutes will cultivate a deeper connection. As we lean into God’s transforming presence, may we trade our agenda for all the Father has for us.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for the times I’ve gotten so busy with my own goals that I’ve forgotten to spend time in your presence. You are a good and faithful God, but in my rush to get things done, I forget to abide in you. Help me lay down my own agenda and simply enjoy being connected to you. Thank you for reminding me to spend time with you as I learn how to abide. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Radu Florin

For more spiritual growth resources, check out the 5-day email study Walking with Rahab by today’s devotion writer, Kristine Brown. You’ll find weekly encouragement to help you “become more than yourself through God’s Word” at her website, Kristine is the author of the book Cinched: Living with Unwavering Trust in an Unfailing God and its companion workbook.

Looking for authentic conversations about how to deal with body image, insecurity, and comparison issues as a Christian woman? The Compared to Who? Podcast is the show for you! Twice a week, we tackle tough topics like dieting, disordered eating, weight loss, aging, body dysmorphia, and more from a practical, grace-filled, gospel-centered perspective. 

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Originally published Tuesday, 20 February 2024.