"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free' ” (John 8:31-32). Speaking of salvation, Jesus was saying to those in His midst who believed Him, "abide in my word." Abide.
While truly believing on Jesus calls for active obedience, Jesus developed the concept of faith to include another component of believing: abiding. Later, as He spoke to His disciples on the eve of His death, Jesus used the analogy of branches on a vine and said,
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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 15:4-5
Again, He said,
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." John 15:9
In comparison to many, I have not lived a full life. While my days are numbered on this earth and I do not know whether I will be here one more day or 30 more years, most would look at my 31 years of life and say that I have many years ahead of me. There is much wisdom to be gained as I grow another year older, another year older. Today, though, even in my short time on this earth, I can say with confidence that I have discovered something about life: there is much waiting in the journey of living. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting in the line, waiting in traffic. Waiting for companionship, waiting for children. Waiting for the right job, waiting for retirement. Truly, no matter where we are in life, we are all waiting on something.
However, as believers, as true followers of Christ, Jesus enters our waiting and gives it another name:
There has been a song echoing in my heart on the call to abide, but it is not just my song. Thousands of years ago, speaking to a people in captivity, the prophet Isaiah penned a hymn. It is a song of restoration, of healing, of freedom. It is a song of captives set free, of blind men now seeing, of hunger now satisfied. It is our song, and it is a song about abiding. Speaking to a nation in captivity about its day of redemption, Isaiah recorded, "In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah..." (26:1).
"We have a strong city," the song thus begins. The captives move unhindered, for their chains have been loosed. The city is fortified by the salvation of God, and no enemy can breach its walls. The song continues:
"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock." (26:3-4)
In this song, the redeemed abide in the Lord by staying the mind. It is our song, too. In all the waiting, in all our searching for answers and seeking for direction, this song of redemption tells us that the answer to our searching and seeking is to abide in Him. We must stay our minds on the Holy God, trusting in Him forever, for this is where perfect peace is found.
Perfect peace. O, how the soul does thirst for that! But see, perfect peace will never come because you reach the end of a season of waiting. It is not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. No, perfect peace is only found when we are abiding in Him, when we stay our minds on the Lord God, our everlasting rock. Our waiting is transformed by Jesus, remade into a life of abiding.
And the song continues:
"The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul." (26:7-8)
The one who abides waits for the Lord, trusting the path of His judgments. The desire of our souls no longer rests in the answer to our prayers, the reason for our waiting. Instead, we desire His name and His remembrance. The song of redemption dances on our tongues as we are satisfied in our abiding.
And the song continues,
"My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you" (26:9).
Even when the minutes are long in the deep of the night, when sleep evades us and restlessness visits instead, the one who abides stays his mind on the Lord. The one who abides yearns for Yahweh, seeking Him earnestly.
"Abide in my word, in Me," Jesus said. The song of redemption is a song of abiding, a song of freedom in the Lord. May we all quiet our souls, still our hearts, and stay our minds on the One True God.
So be it.