It's in these moments (and the moments after) that it's so crucial to hold on to Truth. But what about when I feel so breathless and disoriented that I just don't feel like I can summon the strength to hold on to anything? My fingers go numb and my muscles refuse to obey the command to "hold on". What then?
My best friend once made me a painting in the worst of times, and on it is the word, "stay". It still hangs in my bedroom. Stay. When there is nothing I can do, sometimes it's the things I don't do that become paramount choices. Don't run away - Don't distract or withdraw or act out in a way I think is going to somehow alleviate the panic. Don't shut down, Don't give up, Don't throw it all away for what you can only feel in this moment. Don't unplug from the Source. Don't jump off the Vine.
Jesus invites us to abide. He doesn't ask us to stress and strain and try to fix it all or figure it out. He doesn't ask us to summon some sort of burst of giant faith and push out positive thinking. He doesn't need us to pray the perfect prayers or sing the right songs. Jesus only asks us to "stay".
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener... Remain [abide] in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain [abide] in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains [abides] in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing... If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you... As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain [abide] in my love..."
This passage is not a threat. Hear the tone of Jesus' voice, so loving and matter-of-fact. He's speaking Truth; calmly and carefully repeating himself so that we don't miss it.
What does a branch do to remain in the vine?
Literally, the answer is: It doesn't fall off.
How much effort does it take to simply stay? Remain. He's already here. We're already loved. We just have to remain. Don't fall off - don't run off and try to do it by your own strength alone. Don't get despondent and succumb to the lazy self-pity that says, "Well, I guess He doesn't love me anymore..." Don't turn your back on Jesus, just remain.
I can do that, Lord. I can abide. I don't have the strength to figure it out. I don't understand - I have so many questions and I feel so weak and tired. I can't imagine taking another step right now. But I trust You enough to know that You've somehow got this. You have eternity in mind for me. So I choose to stay. I can't hold on, but I won't let go.
www.flickr.com - Kalecik Karası Grape-vine (Kalecikkarasi)
*FYI, my family is fine. I'm just having to face some things from my past that are new and shocking and difficult. But we're ok. Just didn't want any of my friends to panic. ;)