What Is Abiding? A Triple-A Life!
–by Betty Wells, Abiding Life Ministries International
ACTIVE. Just because without Him we can do nothing, that does not mean we lollygag around waiting for Him to show up and do something in us, because a passive believer can too easily be walking in the flesh. The activity needed in our mind, will, and emotions is to seek Him. We can be content with nothing less than His abiding presence in us, which He has freely provided to us by His Holy Spirit. Being born again does not mean a person can coast along, because the flesh opposes the Spirit and will only submit to the Lordship of Christ in the light of God’s presence. Is God always within us? Yes! I do not like being stuck in a meeting where the people are shouting at the Lord to show up! He is within us believers! But we can shut Him out, so to speak, by neglect.
AWARENESS. So the key activity of abiding is focus. This does not come easily, for when left to ourselves we drift into a rut of independence and rely on the flesh—the mind, will, and emotions NOT under the rule of the Spirit, having been trained up before we knew Christ in the world that is swayed by the enemy—and we ignore God’s abiding presence. The beauty is that He continues to strive with us as His children and He has made a world in which we can make choices; the sad reality is that we are bumbling through life without taking advantage of the potential we have of being filled with His Holy Spirit and sharing His presence with those around us.
AILMENTS. Our lives are one long process of encountering trials, initially wondering what to do, rallying our resources to fix the problem, failing, and eventually yielding the whole thing to Christ, seeing Him in it, and praising Him no matter what. Embrace the process, I always say. It is for our great good, for trials bring us back to that place of dependence on Him where we live abundantly and joyfully. The process is the division of soul and spirit in order that we might more easily recognize the tricky flesh and flee once again to that place of letting the soul feed from the Holy Spirit and not the world. This process hurts, and the resolution requires death to self in ways we did not even know we needed. The fruit afterward is sweet, however, and makes life once again worth living.
Just what are these ailments? God knows exactly what you need, not that you will ever believe you or anyone you love “deserves” a trial! I remember once gloating that I had learned to praise God through trials, and so I need never again make my own trials by not seeking, seeing, recognizing, trusting, and adoring Him through the adverse circumstances. While I still believe that is true, I now know that God is so able to bring trials that absolutely knock us off our game and bring us to our knees in hair-raising discomfort as everything we once knew and took for granted evaporates. Oh, these may seem like small matters to an onlooker, but God knew what was overwhelmingly important enough to you to get your attention, because you did not want to give it up to Him . . . your Isaacs, if you will.
When you have made peace with the three A’s of actively seeking the awareness of His presence, even through ailments, you have found the biggest A of all, Abiding in Christ!