“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.” – John 15:4 (ESV)
I heard the word this morning. Quiet, almost a whisper. There it was.
I did not think up that word. It just came.
I was sitting in my backyard swing, taking in the beauty of nature surrounding me. I was pondering this new phase of retirement.
“What is it that I am supposed to do with myself now that I am retired? What is my purpose? What should I be doing?”
And there it was. Just one simple word. “Abide.”
In my mind’s eye, I had a flash memory of my father standing before me. As a child, I would often complain that I was bored, that there was no one to play with. It was then that my wise father would say, “You do not have to be constantly entertained.”
That childhood admonition from my father was a lesson I never really learned. I always thought I needed to be busy.
Busy was good.
Busy was productive.
Busy was doing things for other people.
Busy gave me purpose.
There was always the next thing, the next task to complete, the next project to tackle, the next trip to look forward to. (Well, let’s be real here. I doubt I will ever give up my focus on the next trip. I simply cannot escape my travel bug!)
Still, in this new season of quiet, I am learning something new, something unexpected. I am learning the importance of enjoying each day, just as it comes. Plans are not required. Productivity is not essential. Just enjoy the moment, just stop and treasure each day.
I have experienced an epiphany of sorts.
“Busyness can be toxic. Busyness gets in the way of our relationship with God.”
There is a reason why all the hymns of long-ago talk about coming to the garden alone and spending time with Jesus. It’s hard to hear Him when you’re busy.
This is a new experience for me. Spending time in my garden, just sitting there, enjoying the morning, gazing at my flowers. No agenda. Nowhere I have to be. Nothing I have to do at that moment. “Abide.” The word comes again. Just sitting there, abiding in Him.
Sitting there in the swing, a sense of peace washes over me. I listen to the birds chirping merrily in the trees. I marvel at the colorful blooms of my flowers in their bright blue pots. Joy floods my heart as I survey the scene surrounding my quiet morning perch.
I just have to ask myself. “Why did I spend so many years missing these precious moments?”
I know, I know. I was busy. I had things to do. I had people depending on me. I couldn’t just stop.
I was driven. I had this overwhelming drive to perform and provide. I needed to get the tasks done, to fix the problem, to make things work better. I simply had to meet everyone’s needs, to take care of everyone. I needed to make sure my loved ones were safe, well cared for, comfortable.
But I wonder. “Could I have stopped, just for a moment? Could I have paused, just to reflect? Could I have found more time to sit in the swing and just be?”
I did not think so at the time, but now I wonder. I don’t regret all the things I accomplished over a career of 32 years. I don’t regret serving my family, my friends, my patients. I do regret not enjoying some of those “peace and quiet” moments a bit more.
In this new season of my life, I am taking time to enjoy the things I never had time for before. I am taking time to just abide.
Somewhere in all this abiding, I am learning. I am discovering that:
Perspective is gained,
The fruit of The Spirit blossoms.
So now I just have to ask. “Have you walked in the garden lately?”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 (ESV)