September 29, 2008
Learning to Abide
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
John 15:4-5 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (NASB)

Friend to Friend
It’s that time of year again.  Schools are recruiting parents for classroom duties, sports teams are looking for team moms, and the women’s ministry is begging for help … and the list really does go on and on.  How do you react when an opportunity for service presents itself?  Do you feel guilty saying “no” and end up saying “yes”?  Why do women feel as if they have to do it all?  Oh, I am certain that a woman can do just about anything she sets her mind to do.  I’m just not sure she can do it all at the same time. 

For years, I tried to earn the love and approval of God by doing everything I could find to do. If a position needed filling, I filled it.  If a job needed doing, I did it.  If volunteers were called for, mine was the first hand raised.  After all, if I was doing all of these important things then I must be important, too.  Right?  The result was two dark years spent at the bottom of a deep, ugly pit called clinical depression.  It was as if God allowed me to run to the end of myself, then shut the door and turned out the lights.  I heard him loud and clear, “That is enough!  It is time for you to abide in me.”  I knew very little about “abiding” but a whole lot about “doing”. I soon learned that to abide in God, to rest in Him requires a balanced life with right priorities.

One of the main factors in my battle with clinical depression was that I didn’t understand how to live a balanced life. I found it difficult to set boundaries, failed to establish margins of time for the unplanned or unexpected, and unwittingly surrendered my God-ordained priorities to the empty, vain addiction of just “doing the next thing” or pleasing the loudest voice.  Balance can easily become a casualty of this ongoing battle. While sitting in the darkness, waiting on God, I discovered that the pit of despair is a common destination for those who refuse to measure and balance the sometimes overwhelming demands of home, family, friends, work and personal growth. I had been running the race for the wrong audience and as a result, relied on my own power instead of God’s power. 

I wish I could tell you that I now lead a perfectly balanced life, but the truth is that I constantly have to re-evaluate my priorities and goals in order to find the holy balance God intends.  Many of you tell me that you have the same struggle.  Just like you, I constantly have to make difficult choices between the good things and the best things.  When I make the wrong choices, I can sense myself sliding toward the dangerous edge of darkness.  I don’t want to go there again – so the battle continues.  The good news is that I don’t have to fight alone and neither do you.  God is with us, urging us toward the light and His restoration power that comes from a heart and life that rests and abides in Him. 

Let’s Pray
Father, I desperately need Your guidance in setting the priorities and goals in my life.  I want to please You and do what You alone have created me to do.  Help me to see and do Your plan. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

  • Set aside 30 minutes this week to spend alone with God.
  • Examine your life for areas that are out of balance.
  • Record each area in your journal.
  • Surrender that imbalance to God and ask Him to show you how to abide in Him instead of relying upon yourself and your own strength.
  • Set aside one day this month for a silent retreat.  Go to the beach – a park – your back yard! Just get alone with God and take a spiritual inventory of your priorities, time management and goals. The results may surprise you. 

More from the Girls
I have decided that a perfectly balanced life was lived only once on this earth – by Jesus Christ.  My chances of doing so are slim.  It would be so easy to just throw my hands in the air or dive back under the covers and pray that the world will just go away and leave me alone.  Been there?  You are not alone, girlfriend.  Gwen, Sharon and I fight the same fight.  We are all in different seasons of life, but the struggle is the same – learning to put God first and then allowing Him to set the agenda for each day.  Need help?  Escaping the Stress Trap would be a great guide to learning how to abide in God.  I also have a free online bible study you might find helpful.  Know that we are with you and praying for you!

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