Hold Tight and Be Held

Let me make a confession: I have chosen the same word of the year, every January, for multiple years in a row. Granted, I did briefly consider finding a new word for this year, but I realized that, more than anything, I need to continue to lean in to the word I have chosen in years past. My word of the year is: Abide.

A little reminder I made for my wall

It’s cute; it’s sweet; it’s to the point. Or is it? What does abide actually mean? It’s not a word that tends to show up in everyday conversation. The apostle John likes to use it frequently, and you can find it sprinkled throughout the gospel of John and I John. John uses it to refer to union with Christ. Abide comes from the Greek word meno. You didn’t know you’d be learning Greek today, did you?

The Greek word meno can have many meanings, including:

  • to remain
  • to be held, kept, continually
  • to survive, live
  • to wait for; await one

I am choosing the word abide because in this season, I am continuing to fight with joint pain that feels unfair at my age, but am trying to boast in my weaknesses, as Paul does in II Corinthians 12. This season I am raising four boys, who are wide open, full of curiosity, noise, chaos, and valor, and praying they grow up to advance the Kingdom of God. This season, I am privileged to work part-time counseling others who are experiencing hardship, anxiety, or disappointment. This season I am in faith jumping headfirst into this new ministry of PRN, to encourage women in their faith. My list goes on and on. All the while, in all of the arenas, I’m trying to remember it’s not all about me. I want to picture walking behind Jesus, as His disciple, learning His ways and learning His voice. I want and need to abide.

Jesus says in John 15 that He is the vine, and we are the branches. If we abide in Him and He in us, then we will bear much fruit. He declares that without him, we will not bear fruit.

John 15:9 ESV

Yet, often I find myself doing things in my own effort. Trying a little too hard to make things happen on my own time table, in my own way. Still, He graciously and lovingly reminds me that without Him I can do nothing. It’s not all about me.

So, as the definitions of meno remind me, I so want to remain. I want to survive and live. I find myself waiting and awaiting so many things. However, it’s the second definition of meno that really gets me down deep in my soul: to be held, kept, continually. Yes, I am to hold onto Jesus for all I’m worth, but the paradox is that He’s doing the holding. He’s keeping me. Continually. What a beautiful and heavenly promise. What a complete and total relief.

Pause: Find a quiet moment and read through John 15: 1-17. If you want to, read it through more than once. There is plenty to mull over in this chapter. What stands out to you in this passage?

Renew: Take time to think/journal/pray about what areas of your life you find it easy to abide, and what areas seem more difficult. How can you become more purposeful in relying on Jesus more in those difficult areas?

Next: In verse 12 of John 15, Jesus commands: “Love each other as I have loved you.” Today, choose one action of love that you can give to someone who is not expecting it.

May we abide in Him and He in us, and may we bear much fruit!

Pause, Renew, Next!

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