"Oh come to us, abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel!"
These old familiar words to a famous Christmas carol ring in my ears today as I sit in front of a fire recalling God's simple whisper to my heart this time last year, "Abide and go forth." At first it seems God was telling me to do two different things by telling me to stay AND go, doesn't it? How can one remain and yet go?
Abiding does mean to remain but it is an active word. It takes action to remain in any intimate relationship, spiritual or human. I can say I'm in relationship with my husband but if I don't speak to him, spend time with him or love him, then that relationship is merely a legal living arrangement not a true, intimate marriage between partners who claim to love each other. It's the same with my relationship with Jesus, too. I can say I have a relationship with Jesus but if I don't spend time with him, communicate my thoughts, desires or needs to him or worship (love) him I have no relationship, just an arrangement. I'm not abiding in him or him in me. We're more like acquaintances living in the same room rather than truly intimate partners. It takes action, moving toward him, to be considered abiding in him.
Does moving toward him, abiding in him, account for his command to go forth? No. By abiding in Jesus I gain his wisdom, his discernment, his boldness, a confidence that through him all things are possible...even and especially what, in my own strength or knowledge, is impossible. To move forward into something without intimately abiding with Jesus is like crossing a busy city street blindfolded. I may survive but there's a huge chance I may get run over by oncoming traffic!
In the 400 years prior to Jesus' birth, Israel was crying out for God to come to them, abide with them. When he arrived many rejected him as Messiah. Then and still today, Jesus calls to all of us, "Come to me. Abide with me, your Lord, Emmanuel!" Will you?