Arriving or Abiding?

Arriving or Abiding?

This phrase, “arriving or abiding”,  crossed my mind today, as I was pondering some recent ministry goals. Most of you are familiar with our book, Vertical Marriage: A Godward Preparation for Life Together, which was published in 2015. The book launch was an “arriving” moment, to be sure. After months of writing, edits, and design, it was a cause for celebration. The book premiered at a conference and sold very well; actually it was the best selling book at the venue. Now, four years later, we are in the planning stages to create a video series to accompany the book. My biggest challenge? Living in the in-between, my self-esteem hovering in uncertainty, craving for another “arriving” moment.

The desire to make an impact in life is God given. But to measure that impact, without the leadership of the Holy Spirit, leads to comparison, striving, and discouragement. After all, fruit takes time to grow and ripen. How absurd to resent a vine or a tree for not producing faster! And yet I have often minimized my perceived impact, or lack thereof, with exactly this reasoning. “I’m not producing enough. There must be something I’m not doing, that I should be.” Though documented hundreds of times, and at the top of my soul’s “watch list”, this faulty thinking has a way of moving stealthily through security checks!

The Life of a Branch

The well know passage in John’s gospel, is all about abiding and arriving, isn’t it? “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jn. 15:5 I love the insight gleaned from the Message Translation: “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.”

As branches, I’d say we’re in pretty good company. A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. Is. 11:1 Jesus perfectly demonstrated the way a branch is to be postured to a vine. “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Jn. 5:19

Permanent Priesthood

The most fruitful branch? Jesus. The most severely pruned branch? Jesus. Ponder the transition. He went from a world renowned public ministry, to the hidden place of intercession. “Christ Jesus who died, more than that, who was raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Rom. 8:34 “He has a permanent priesthood…because he always lives to intercede…and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.” Heb. 7:24-25; 10:13 If anybody has “arrived”, Jesus certainly has; being “seated at the right hand of God.” Col. 3:1 Yet He is still abiding, serving His body from the place of ceaseless prayer.

A Harvest in the Send – A Harvest in the Stay

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’…The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’” Lk. 10:1,2,17-20

“But the Lord replied to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.’” Lk. 10:41-42 (AMP) “Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.” Lk. 10:42 (MSG)

There are times to be the worker in the harvest and obey the voice that sends. There are times to be the lover at His feet and obey the voice that bids us stay.

Photo by Garrett Sears on Unsplash