As I took my over-eager gentle giant of a “puppy” on a morning walk today, he pulled and strained as usual. He was eager to explore the falling leaves and the group of runners and all of the hundreds of enticing dog-scents. I kept saying, “Stay with me. Stay with me. STAY WITH ME,” as I tugged his leash. I was trying to keep him near and out of the path of danger (the large trucks barreling down the road to their construction sites).
As I heard myself, I almost laughed out loud because I am so similar to my curious yet oft-misguided pup. In my relationship with God, I want to run off and explore – to chase whatever seems most compelling in the moment – and it can lead me off course straight into the path of danger. God gently reminds me in the words of John 15 of His instruction to abide. To stay with Him, not wander away. It’s so simple, and so difficult.
I think of another scene from a few days ago. It was cold outside, there were sick kids at home and a cheerful fire in the fireplace. I was settled in a comfy armchair with my Bible and journal. And where was our pup? Resting at my feet. Curled up on the hearth and quite content to stay with me. I didn’t have to instruct him repeatedly. In fact, I didn’t have to say a word. It’s what he chose.
Isn’t that so like our hearts? I’ll speak to mine. I’m content to rest and abide, to sit and learn at Jesus’ feet when protected from the distractions that too easily catch my mind and can lead my heart to stray. How can I practice the rest of abiding? For me, this means choosing to regularly go to spaces where I can focus on listening more carefully to His still, small voice. It means quieting the noise without – metaphorically and literally! It means coming away to be with Jesus, away from the demands and requests of others and my own internal distractions. It means turning off my devices, or silencing them. It means tuning in to Him through prayer, God’s Word, the Spirit, and His beautiful creation. It means heeding His words to “Stay with me!” when I find myself wandering away. And the result? It’s a soul-rest that I was created for – at the feet of Jesus, calm and at peace.
Where I live, we’re fully in the swing of fall routine, although the weather still feels like summer. In the mornings, the geese calls mix with the lingering music of birdsong, reminding me of the seasonal transition we are approaching from summer to fall. I want writing in this space to be part of my rhythm of this next season, and the one after, and the one after that … so I’m back for “Five Minute Friday” after stepping out for the last few crazy weeks of summer schedule-becoming-school-starting.
- Five Minute Friday: Five minutes on a weekly prompt, no editing, just free-flowing words and stream-of-consciousness. And a supportive writing community hosted by Kate Motaung – head over to fiveminutefriday.com to learn more.
I think of the weeds I try to uproot in our backyard garden. The ones that are small are much easier to remove because the roots are shallow. But the ones I’ve missed somehow, perhaps because they disguised themselves for awhile, staying hidden in the foliage and blooms, those will take more effort. Their roots have become larger, entangled. And they’re more dangerous to the blossoms in which they’re entwined.
How similar the process of allowing Jesus, my heart-gardener, to uproot the sins in my life! The ones I see and notice small, those are more easily uprooted. But the ones that are more subtle, perhaps they’re the ones that are more dangerous. They’ve entwined themselves into my heart and my life, sometimes even masquerading as “fruit.” Those root systems – well, they can take years to uproot, even decades. My work? It’s to allow the Gardener of my Heart to do His work, painful though it might be. To abide more deeply in His Word, listen more carefully to His Spirit, walk towards the light of community even when it feels painful or blindingly too bright. It is here where the weeds of my life are exposed as what they are – lifeless distractions at best, life-choking deceptions at worst. It is here where sin can be uprooted, and the roots of my heart find space to go deeper into the live-giving Love of Christ.
My work? It’s to allow the Gardener of my Heart to do His work, painful though it might be. To abide more deeply in His Word, listen more carefully to His Spirit, walk towards the light of community even when it feels painful or blindingly too bright.
– Heather Nelson