Last week I together with colleague principals and directors had the privilege and opportunity to retreat from our harried lives in the heart of the Riverland at Loxton. As part of the reflections so wonderfully facilitated by Pastor Jason Sander, we were provided space to deeply explore what nurtures our soul. Two questions on which we contemplated were:
What would you like to say to your soul?
What is God saying to your soul?
As I shared in my reflection with a colleague, I had this deep sense that God was revealing to me the words of John 15:4 &5 ‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine you are the branches: those who abides in me and I in them, they bear much fruit, for apart from me they can do nothing.’
Unbeknown at the time this imagery was the basis of the message shared by Pastor Jason at the close of the retreat on Friday.
The word abide is not common in our language today, but it means to dwell in. There is a profound difference between my spiritual life and the life of a branch in the vineyard. God, in his infinite love, does not force me to associate myself with Him. He calls me to freely choose Him of my own will and love. But he reminds me that I will never bear the abundant fruit he has intended for my life without my commitment to be connected to Him, to abide in Him, to live in Him.
So, I come back to the first reflection question: ‘What would you like to say to your soul? Based on what God is saying to me my response to my soul is “ignore my self-centred desires and ambitions and stay deeply connected to Jesus the true source of hope and strength. This will provide focus, fulfilment and purpose which will enable me to flourish in this life and life eternal.”
Where do you abide? Is it in the magnificent life-giving vine of Jesus Christ?
No matter how hard we strive, without connection to Jesus, our lives will always be less than what God intended for us.