Abiding: as an individual
Abiding for me is about being before doing. It’s about being pruned back to the essentials of who I am so that I can connect with who God is.
It’s about coming back to the God whose name is ‘I AM’, connecting with His character and hearing His voice. It’s about being reminded of what God has done and how that reflects who he is. Abiding is about celebrating His goodness in the previous season, reflecting honestly on its challenges and seeing that He was always there. It’s retreating into the safe harbour of His person and allowing His word (written and spoken) to build into the wind that will move me forward into the next adventure.
It’s a place of rest, retreat and re-creation of everything that He says I am. It’s about reminding myself of what God has already said about me. It’s about taking the time and making the space to reflect on what He has done and grown in my character over the previous season. It’s about listening for His right-now word in my life. And it’s also about working out what He’s saying over me for the next season.
Abiding is not a stand-alone time, disconnected from the rest of life. In the winter there are always remnants of the previous season (the autumn leaves lying on the ground) and signs of the season to come (the lightening days, the green shoots that hint of spring).. In the same way, abiding is always about looking back and looking forward. It’s about making space to store up the already-won fruit and allowing seeds to be planted for the next crop.
But how do I do this? What does it actually look like for me?
Being before doing doesn’t mean doing nothing! It means doing those things that express who I am – the gifts, skills, and passions that God has given me. For me, it’s things like sitting in coffee shops, walking round a park, cooking, and hanging out with friends. Doing the things I enjoy, the things which come naturally to me, often helps me let my guard down. As I stop striving to get things done or achieve certain goals, I relax – and that’s when I open up to God.
Abiding also doesn’t have to mean ‘in a room on your own.’ The degree to which that is helpful will depend on how introverted/extroverted you are. As an extrovert, part of abiding is learning the discipline of being with God on my own, learning to be comfortable with myself. However, I also need the life that comes from being with others.
The people that God has put around me can be so helpful in helping me reconnect with who I am – reminding me of what God has said, asking me questions to help me dig deeper, talking over the previous season and pointing out what God has done, mourning over the disappointments, celebrating the successes, and helping me see what He’s saying for the future.
There does need to be an intention to it though – a choosing to make the time and space for this, without the need to rush on to the next thing and the next thing. It means I can linger over a coffee if God is revealing something to me as I talk with a friend. Or that I can push myself to climb that next hill and learn something about how God is calling me to persevere, without worrying about being late back. Or that I can take the time to express the creativity I’ve been given by a creator God by experimenting in the kitchen, without stressing about how successful the end result is.
I’m really looking forward to making some time to abide over the next month or so and seeing what God says and does in me. What about you? Will you be abiding? How will you be connecting with God’s character and who He says you are?
Pip Martin lives in Sheffield and works for 3dm UK as Operations Manager. She has led several Missional Communities with a heart for internationals.
(Picture taken by Pip in Aix-les-Bains, France)