Abiding in Christ is meant to be as natural as breathing.
We tend to make it too complicated. We set the bar too high to reach, because we think we know what abiding is supposed to look like, having read about or heard about those we consider to be giants of the faith and their abiding life. We allow ourselves to be defeated before we’ve begun, thinking we’re inadequate, we don’t have the time, the discipline, the prayer life to make it part of our lives.
We don’t seem able to think of ourselves as relaxing into an abiding relationship with Christ. But the branch doesn’t strive to be part of the vine. The more open and relaxed it is, the more it can receive the life-giving flow from the vine that will produce much fruit. We must be connected, we must establish the loving relationship with our Lord, we must not let our lives get so full of activity and business that He is not free to fill us.
If we will tend to those essentials, we can relax with Him and trust Him to establish the abiding pattern that is right for us. We are unique in personality, in our spiritual understanding, in our knowledge of the Word, in our relationship with Him. We are not meant to abide like anyone else. He will help us develop a personal and unique relationship with Him.
Something else to consider is the ebb and flow of our necessary commitments and schedules. If we are doing our best to maintain a close, abiding relationship with Jesus, the closeness, the intimacy of that relationship is there even in our busiest moments. You might compare it to a healthy relationship between husband and wife, child and parent, or best friends. Some days we have more time than usual to enjoy being together. Most days we fall into a natural, daily rhythm of togetherness. Occasionally we may be swept into currents of responsibility that leave less time than usual—business or family demands, travel, illness, holidays. Life happens. But the relationship isn’t broken, it’s solid when we quickly get back to the meaningful times that cultivate our intimate relationship. We pick up where we left off.
If we are not careful, what can happen is that we begin to feel guilty that we haven’t our usual quiet times with our Lord. That guilt can sometimes produce negative feelings that prevent our return to those times. That’s not what we want. It is not what He wants.
This isn’t to give us all permission to stay so busy we don’t have time to cultivate and maintain an abiding relationship, but to say the abiding relationship is living and unique to each of us, and it is strong enough to survive those seasons when we feel more distant. Truth is, He is with us whether we feel it or not.