Looking through the wrong end of the telescope
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord... -Jeremiah 29:13-14a
The idea of Abiding starts with knowing God. To abide is to know Him more, to get to know Him better, so that I live in Him and His Spirit lives in me. The issue, as Doug discussed last week (https://www.convoynwa.org/audio/2019/2/3/leaning-in), is often one of trust. And even that is sometimes a chicken-and-egg kind of question. How can I trust someone I don't know? How can I know someone I don't trust? Those questions won't be resolved in the space of this post, but can we admit that we struggle with trust issues from time to time? And if we're willing to go that far, can we concede that we would be more at peace in our walk with God if our trust level for Him was higher? So how do we get there?
I'm no expert, but for me, it took un-learning some things. I grew up in a very performance-based religious tradition. At least that's the way I perceived it. I needed to do certain things in a certain way, holding to certain attitudes throughout the process. If I did, that demonstrated that I was a good and sincere person, worthy of God's love. He would, in turn, forgive my sin and maintain my salvation. As long as I didn't screw it up. That approach created a lot of pressure. As a matter of fact, it sucked most of the joy out of living. It was NOT good news. Over time, it became hard to see God as a loving Father. The picture was starting to resemble a capricious judge who was ready to pounce on any misdemeanor, or a stern task master who was more concerned with the quality of my work than he was about me as a person. My model looked like this:
What I do ===> Who I am ===> What God does ===> Who God is
Imagine my joy the day someone reached out their hand, took my telescope, and turned it around! Starting from the other end of the model, I learned that yes, in fact, God IS a loving Father. That flows through His character so that He ALWAYS acts in the best interests of His children, to the point of giving Himself to die in my place before I even knew I needed Him. His love made me His child and His sacrifice redeemed me from the hopeless path I was headed down. That defines my identity, freeing me to live out my days in a joyful reflection of His love, not under my own power in order to win His favor, but fueled by His grace and taught by His Spirit.
Who God is ===> What God does ===> Who I am ===> What I do
Even with that understanding, it's easy to revert to old habits. Our fallen world reinforces that - every person we have ever known is going to let us down sometime. So we get cynical, we get jaded. "Always expect the worst - that way you're never disappointed." "You want something done right? You'll have to do it yourself." But God is calling us to trade up.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. -Psalm 34:8
It raises another chicken-and-egg scenario: Is my abiding enhanced by my trust or is my trust enhanced by my abiding? I think the answer might be yes. But you'll have to taste for yourself!