Live or Abide?

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While waiting for my coffee to brew this morning, I checked the news headlines. I was horrified to read the story that wildfires outside of Denver had destroyed nearly 600 homes. I can’t imagine the overwhelming heartbreak of closing out 2021, standing in front of a pile of embers, looking at what used to be my home. 

Since Covid and the ensuing shutdowns, our homes have taken on a new level of importance. Depending on the state where you live and the level of restrictions imposed, your home may double as your office, daycare, school, and restaurant. It is a place to sleep at night and one of the few spaces where unmasked conversation provides a sense of normalcy. 

I also have to pause and recognize my deep sense of gratitude that I have a home. Working with and around the fine people in our nonprofit sector, I am aware of the housing shortage and the many individuals and families desperate for a place to call their own. Shelters are full, rents are sky-high, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for relief on the horizon. 

While I could write a lengthy narrative on the importance of home, I wanted to take some time to explore a concept that, until recently, I hadn’t considered: abiding. Abide is not a commonly used word these days. I’ve heard it in Bible verses but never thought about what it really means.  

Here are a few examples:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. . . Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 14:4-5 ESV

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9 ESV 

“His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.” Psalm 25:13 ESV

“May grace come to you, may peace abide with you from God, who is the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:3 GWC

Forming a definition from context, I would have previously said that the words live and abide could be interchangeable. It was a short Christmas devotional I read a few weeks ago that got me to reconsider this casual word exchange. It challenged my thinking and caused me to consider if I live or abide in peace and love.

We have often rented a vacation home when traveling. We look at pictures online, read the description of the space, and pay a fee to live in this temporary location. It’s a home that we look forward to visiting. We take reasonable care while using it, and upon our departure, we remove our belongings and lock the door behind us. This, I’m afraid, is how I’ve “lived” in God’s peace and love.

Contrast the vacation model with the concept of living in your own home. You have moved in, unpacked, and hung art on the wall. You figure out how the furniture fits in the various spaces, and your stuff is in every closet and drawer. When something falls into disrepair, you take care of it before the problem becomes costly. This is how I want to abide in the love and peace of the Father. 

For me, this is a radical mind shift. Perhaps others don’t struggle as much. The concept that peace and love can be my permanent residence is something that demands a change in my thoughts and actions. The opportunity to live in peace and love isn’t a vacation to look forward to, and remember with fondness after I leave. It is the place I put down my roots, and sink into the sofa. The world may be madness outside my door, but I’m not budging. 

Many people make resolutions heading into the new year. Clean eating, exercise, and money management are all great. For me, I have one simple word for 2022 that I pray changes me from the inside out: abide. 

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