I’m sitting in an airport lobby ready to write a post about “abiding in the vine” and suddenly the TV starts flashing with breaking news about the shooting at Lone Star College. I feel sick to my stomach. I feel like bursting into tears. I don’t feel safe. I’m angry.
And now I’m just bewildered. How long, Lord, will we live in this evil world, in this depraved darkness? I’m so tired of living amidst this sickness. And as I sit in this lobby, while crowds of people stand around the TV, and I fight back tears, I hear the words that I was planning on writing about “abide in the vine.”
My small group leader in college was an amazing woman in her late-forties with an incredibly thick Texas accent. She faithfully led a group of 20+ college girls every week for many years. We loved sitting at her feet, listening to her teach God’s word, and give advice on our own #collegegirlproblems. I can’t count the number of conversations, advice, and pieces of wisdom she passed on to us over the years because they are too numerous, but the one phrase I continue to hear between my ears in her sweet Texas accent is “Abide. Abide in the vine.”
It seemed like no matter what the problem or question was, at the end of the conversation, the answer from Sonja was always to just “abide.”
You’ve got to abide, y’all. Abide in the vine.
I wish you could hear her accent the way I do in my head. Abide.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of word that I have spoken to you. 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 bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. [John 15:1-11]
We are to abide in Him, in His love, in His words, in His truth, in His shelter. If we abide, He will take care of us, He will “prune” us, and we will flourish and grow. If we abide in Him, we can confidently approach Him with our prayers. If we abide in Him, we be filled with joy. Those that do not abide, will be thrown aside and destroyed.
This gives me hope and peace for two reasons.
1. Justice will be served. As I sit in this lobby, still stricken with nausea over this school shooting, I can trust that God will hold all of us accountable and that justice will be served.
2. Like my small group leader often said, the answer to my fear, anger, and sadness, is to abide. There is no other place I can turn to for hope, no other person who can promise safety in schools, no political figure that can pass the proper legislation. Because as long as we live on this sin-ridden earth, we will experience tragedy, hurt, and darkness. And the only place in the midst of this sickness where we can be made whole, where we can place our trust and hope, where we can find joy, is in Jesus Christ and by abiding in Him.
So, I’m still angry and scared and nauseous and angry (did I mention I was angry?), but I’m going to choose to abide.
Abide in the vine, y’all.