On Choosing to Abide

20160118-Manning-Heroes

I am aware of my broken pieces.

I know what pulls at the sleeves of my patience and what triggers my insecurity. I recognize my propensity towards perfectionism and where I’m prone to apathy.

And where there is my sin, there is me: desperately trying to determine the source of those broken pieces to hopefully, eventually, fix myself.

If I could just be more selfless, then I would be more present to my husband.
If I could just be less controlling, then I would stop turning my day into a task list.
If I could just be more patient, then I would not have said those harsh words.

As I grow in awareness of God’s character, the more I see we were never meant to be our own heroes, our own handymen, our own problem-solvers and saviors.

Instead, Scripture tells us that our sanctification — our process of refinement and spiritual maturity — has nothing to do with our own effort, and everything to do with what often appears to be the most unproductive.

We cling to the Lord. We abide in Him.

“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.”
{John 15:4, NLT}

My own attempt to manufacture goodness, patience, a controlled thought life, or any other fruit that comes from connection to the Lord is a futile effort.

I am incapable of strong-arming spiritual growth. I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to produce change in myself via good intentions and convincing my will to cooperate. I’ve resisted the truth that leaning into God’s very Spirit could initiate transformation organically.

It still doesn’t make sense to me. But I know it to be true.

Priscilla Shirer writes in The Armor of God, “One of the most cunning tricks of the enemy is to get us to sink our energy into changing instead of focusing it on cultivating health and wellness in Christ. But if we concentrate on having a vibrant, healthy spiritual life, we’ll automatically grow and change as a result.”

My prayer is that God would help us release our tight grip on managing our sanctification, that we would discover an eagerness to cooperate with the Spirit’s promptings as they come — one by one, day by day.

Let’s celebrate and anticipate the work He continues in each of us.

Related: Hang this beautiful wall art in your home with these words of truth: “With God All Things Are Possible.”

comments:
share:
  • Anna Smit

    Mallory, this is so timely and such wise words. Thank you so much for writing this. Oh how I recognize and empathize with this: “I am incapable of strong-arming spiritual growth. I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to produce change in myself via good intentions and convincing my will to cooperate.”

    Excuse my lengthy comment, but this is something so very close to my heart. I came back to trusting God just under two years ago, but until this past week, I “knew” in my head this was all true, but my heart hadn’t really digested it.

    Then, reading several Scriptures this week, while memorizing Matthew 6: 1 – 2, really opened the eyes of my heart. For the first time, I read these two verses as an invitation, rather than a threat or finger-wagging disappointment in me. And throughout the week, other verses I read spoke as a personal Love Letter to me, like never before.

    I think it all started as I was biking home from dropping my oldest off at school in the pouring rain, angered and frustrated, praying to God to help me let go, and I kept hearing the Scripture: “for the joy set before Him”. I went home and looked up the Greek root of the word for endure (He endured the cross for the joy set before Him). Endure or hupomeno means “to abide under, to bear up courageously” (under suffering), but it is actually a strengthened form of “to abide” (meno). And when you look at meno (“to abide”), you discover that this “abiding” is a gift from God, the Spirit of Truth. Romans 8: 3 – 4 (The Message) explains that:

    “The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.”

    I read all this and things started sinking in. I had been “trying” so hard to “abide” in my own strength, rather than asking the LORD to unclench my fingers to raise my empty, open palms to Him. The sinking in itself was also Spirit-led, rather than in my own strength: a big difference.

    It truly feels as if a load is being lifted off my shoulders and He’s taking me one step closer to really receiving Him and abiding in Him (I’ve traveled from feeling terrified of His wrath, from feeling terrified of others, from feeling a failure in His eyes to slowly but surely having my heart opened to receive Him). God is SO powerful and His Spirit-infused Word really does cut deep and release us into His freedom.

    • Mallory Manning

      Anna, He is so good! Thank you for sharing what’s been on your heart. It’s such a difficult truth for me to absorb, but I love the revelations you’ve found studying the language. Thank you (again) for encouraging me!

  • A

    Mallory and Anna, thank you so much for these postings. Thank you for reminding me that transformation is a process of surrender to His good work, that “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Its a process of patient obedience infused with hope and joy as we seek Him, becoming more conformed to His character through the deep healings and so better able to carry out His will. I pray that He fills all of our hearts and lives with His great love today, soothing our souls as He sands and prunes them into His works of love :)

    • Mallory Manning

      Beautifully said. Thank you!

  • Tami Harbin

    yes! i think this is right! thanks for posting!

    • Mallory Manning

      I’m glad it resonated, Tami!