The Real Meaning of Abide

One of my favourite Psalms is 91. It's one of those ones for me where I could sit with one word at a time, chewing it slowly and letting it sink in deep. There's no season in my life it doesn't apply to, no day where I read those words and go unchanged. For the past year or so, I've been abiding. Not by my choice, at first anyways, it was a forced abiding. As if God plucked me from my world where I felt so big, swallowed me up in His big arms and wouldn't let me go no matter how much I pounded my tiny fists on His chest. It didn't take me long to give up trying to escape, and exhale into the expanse of His embrace. Whatever aspect of God you're learning about and leaning into - it's bigger than you think it is. Bigger still. Bigger yet. Think you've got a good comprehension of His love/grace/justice/compassion/generosity? You've only seen the preview. The more you know, the more you realize you don't know, Amen?

Abiding is one of those tricky concepts that sounds a lot easier than it is. It sounds restful but it's not (always). It sounds like something you do, but it's more about who you are. Abiding sounds like an action you can check off your to do list, but it's really, really not. Abiding is not about carrying God with you everywhere, it's about letting Him carry you.

The root of the word abide has a few meanings - to remain, to dwell, to camp, to cling to, and my personal favourite - to be persistently present in. What a goal that is, to be persistently present in God! To camp out in Him, to remain in Him, to cling to Him. We tiny humans tend to puff ourselves up quite a bit. Left alone for too long, we become larger than life. We like to talk about having Christ in us, about carrying Jesus to the people, about having a God shaped hole in our hearts. This makes for some nice imagery, but I'm afraid it's misleading. The bigger truth, the clearer picture, is to see us in Him. To dwell in the shelter of the Most High. To abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Abide is related to the word abode, meaning home. We're called to make our home in God. That's what Psalm 91 is about. All those good promises about deliverance and covering and protection? They happen in the abiding. They're not only possible, but promised to you and to me, when we camp out in the shadow of the Almighty God.

So how do you do that? How do you not only let Him have a home in your heart, but make your home in Him? It starts with your identity - not only seeing yourself in His eyes, but start defining yourself by who He is. Picture yourself living and moving and breathing in Him, as His son/daughter. From there, you'll start to see everyone else in Him. That person that's hard to love? They're in Him too. That one who pushes your buttons? They're just another son/daughter fully loved by your God. The circumstances and obstacles that used to seem so big, have a whole different shape when you're abiding in Him.

Give Him permission to change your perspective. Ask Him to give you eyes to see and ears to hear the bigger truth. Ask God to teach you how to abide, how to be carried by Him. It's more expansive than you think it is.