In youth ministry, summer time is BUSY!! This summer has been a whirlwind of traveling to Atlanta with high school students, BSM Camp, Costa Rica with middle school students and their parents, and last but not least Mission Abilene with 6th & 7th graders. Then school starts.
There’s a never-ending list of things to do. There’s always something fighting for my attention. “Summer’s just really busy.” “There are so many things happening in the Fall.” “Holiday season is so fast and busy.” “Spring is our busy season.”
These seem to be common statements that I use to define my life. I always feel busy. There are constantly things demanding my attention and a lot of times I feel inclined to give my attention to those things because I WANT to feel busy... or I don’t want to stay still, to be going all of the time....or because I need to feel needed.
I recently got back from a trip to Liberia, Costa Rica and was able to see the contrast of culture between Americans and Costa Ricans. As Americans, we do really well to have a set schedule, to have things constantly demand our time and if we don’t stick to that schedule or plan, we feel a tension of “did I really bring value to that thing or accomplish…?”. Throughout the trip, there was a constant tension of leaning into the culture we were getting to be apart of and the culture I grew up in. It was like two worlds colliding. No one culture is better than the other but within the tension, there’s a space. Early on in the week, I heard the Lord whisper John 15. What I love about Jesus is that His words have so many layers. You unpack one thing and then He shows up to peel back another layer.
In John 15:4-5;9, Jesus says to His disciples, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love.”
Abide. There is so much in this one simple word. It’s not a movement word, it’s a word that means “to remain, continue or stay.” In Costa Rica, the Lord was gentle and kind to remind me of His heart for me and the people around me. It’s not to “do do do” or “go go go” but to “Abide in My love…These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” His heartbeat for me, for us, is not to be swept up in a storm of busyness or constantly go for the sake of going, but to FIRST abide. Abide, so that we know His love for us and bear fruit so that we can in turn love people around us because we have received from THE Vine.
So as our feet start to step into the movement that is constant, let us remember that His command for us is to FIRST abide. He gives us grace to abide. May we accept this grace and abide in the One who gives life, who prefers us before Himself, and who knows the ebbs and flows before they come.
May we abide in His love!