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.