Tessa doesn’t know what life holds around that bend. She is not thinking about the times she failed to obey in the past or fret about what she might face in the future. She lives in the now and she walks forward bravely because she trusts the one who sends her. Be like Tessa.
What does it mean to abide?
Years ago, I had a baseball cap (I love baseball caps). This one had the word Abide stylishly stitched across the brow. I wore it proudly. It also looked great on me. That was, in one word, the sentiment I wanted as my declarative mission statement for life. The snare that was set before me then [and now] is this: What if I’m too easily satisfied with the appearance of one who abides? What if, on closer examination, you would see in my day-to-day life that the desire to abide is easily and repeatedly crowded out by other anxious desires and demands of life? Am I abiding only when life is simple, but not when life is complicated and scary?
“In its fullest meaning, the word abide holds a promise.”
As the apostle John breaks it down in 1 John 2, abiding is linked to obedience to Christ. 1 Jn 2:6 ‘whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked’. In its fullest meaning, the word abide holds a promise. A promise that in our obedience we are not alone, we are in Christ. 1 Jn 2:24-25 says “…If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life.”
There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. None of us knows how far this reaction to COVID-19 will take us. How many people will be displaced or how many lives will be taken by it. Let me draw a distinction that I draw for myself on a regular basis. It is this: All the things we care about, worry about, pray about and pine about – all of those things live in a place called our ‘circle of concern’. It’s big and it holds all of it. Inside that circle is a much smaller, but much brighter circle. The inner circle is called our ‘circle of influence’. Pray to recognize what is in your circle of influence. I believe you will discover precisely what Jesus is asking you to do today, and in the doing, you will have the phenomenal privilege of abiding in Christ where the peace of Christ will dwell with you.
“Obedience is an active verb that lives in the present.”
Remember, we cannot obey retroactively. Likewise, one can only ‘intend’ to obey proactively. Obedience is an active verb that lives in the present. There is no draw available on our promised future obedience. But all of us, every single one of us, can act on what God has placed on our hearts TODAY. Quite surprisingly, it is our obedience in the present-now that will have the greatest impact on all that lives in our circles of concern.
Note: The concept of circle of influence/circle of concern comes from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.