March, 2020. This is a place where we haven’t been before. We have a lot of questions and many of them don’t have answers yet. But some things we do know. We know whatever is going on we want to be walking closely with Jesus. John 15:4 Jesus puts it simply, “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.”
What does it mean to abide in Jesus?
Could you imagine going through a zoo and looking at the map the whole time? You’d have your head down, concerned more about which way to go, than enjoying the view. You’d miss seeing how the animals move around and interact with each other. You wouldn’t have a chance to take in how distinctly the’ve each been created. You wouldn’t have experienced any of the beauty and creativity of God and take in His glory that shines through each one. At the end of the day you’d probably be exhausted.
This is how we can get when it comes to abiding with Jesus. We think there’s a map, there’s a destination and it’s dependent on us to get through it. We get distracted with what’s not important and we miss the beauty and glory of God that’s all around us. He’s waiting for us, holding all the meaningful things He wants to give us, and we pass right by.
Abiding with Jesus is about what you’re looking at. Actually, not what, but who you are looking at. It’s about looking to Jesus.
John 6:40 “For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise the up on the last day.”
There is a famous old hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, written by Helen Lemmel (1863-1961). She was inspired to write this song from reading a gospel tract written by Lilias Trotter (1853-1928), a missionary woman to Africa. Lilias wrote this line in her tract: So then turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness. From this, Helen penned these lyrics:
O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
Two very interesting things about this story. One, Lilias was inspired to write her tract from simply noticing a dandelion among stems and moss on the ground during an early morning walk in prayer. She was being attentive to Jesus and He gave her revelation through a simple weed. Two, Helen, two decades later, reads her tract and wrote this song during one of the most darkest times of her life, physically and emotionally. She had recently been diagnosed with an ailment in her eyes that was causing blindness. Because of this her husband of 10 years had left her. However, this did not diminish her faith. She was able to perceive in the midst of a great trial because she remained abiding in Jesus.
Look what came of one woman being attentive to Jesus and receiving revelation through a dandelion. Then goes on to inspire another woman, going through deep tribulation, to write a song that would inspire Christians for generations to come. Both because they were abiding with Jesus. Helen lived to be 97 years old. When she was asked how she was doing, she would respond, “I’m doing well in the things that count.”
Abiding means looking to Him all throughout our day, listening for His voice, slowing down, living one day at a time, thanking and adoring Him, loving and delighting with Him. This gives our relationship with Him a chance to be enjoyed and be the delight it was designed to be. When we look to Jesus we are giving Him our attention and connecting with Him. It’s the simple turning the eyes of our spirit to Him, the turning of our thoughts to Him that opens us to abide with Him. We can do this all throughout our days, even in the middle of conversations and at work. By looking to Jesus, we open the door of our hearts to be with Him. This can be with or without words. Song of Songs 4:9 “You have captivated my heart, my sister, my Bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”
When we practice this, our perspective changes to His perspective and we begin to “see” what He sees, “hear” what He hears and then we begin to “do” what He does. We’ll become less and less aware of the things and entanglements of this world.
2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplation the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.
We become what we behold.
Hebrews 12:2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
There’s so much going on in the world today. In all things, look to Jesus.