Abiding is, More?!

written by Chris Hartenstein
Over the last several years, just about everything in my life has grown. My kids have grown up and expanded their lives and kingdoms. We now have two “daughters-in-love”, a grandson, more in college than ever before, new callings being pursued, missions being executed, and a son living in Montana. The business has grown a ton and is ready for its next large expansion and the ministry has exploded with more fathers and sons and men heading out west every year. All of that while enduring a pandemic. This season of explosive growth means, I (Chris) have more that I am responsible to lead, to nurture, to provide, plan for, and protect than ever before. It can all feel, well, overwhelming. I have coined the phrase…blessing overload. It is all good, it is all gifts from my Dad but it can also be overwhelming. Why? Because with all the growth and movement comes opposition and struggle. We all know that nothing good comes without a fight and hard work.

As I have experienced both the “blessing overload” and engaged in the battles one thing is for certain. I am not enough. There isn’t enough time or energy (especially in this aging body of mine) to get it all done. Every day I wrestle with what hasn't been completed, what hasn't been accomplished. And so that pushes me to ask my Dad, how? How do I do all that is required of me? How do I love well? Lead well? Etc, etc. How do I find the time to do what needs to be done? My heart desires to hear “well done thou good and faithful son,” but how can that happen?

As I have sought my Dad's leading and guidance during this season he has time and time again brought me back to John 15. Now, initially, when he brought me here, "I was like what??" How can abiding be more helpful to me at all? Yes, I may feel more at peace, I may be more chill in life in general, but will I get everything done? - no way. To be honest, how often is the solution to being behind, falling short, and not getting it done, to do less?!

So let me start by defining what Jesus was saying about “abiding”. Traditionally, I think that abiding is sitting, reading, praying, listening, and journaling. This is partially true, but an incomplete definition. When we think about a branch and vine, they are always connected. The branch is constantly receiving. It is “willing” to take in sustenance, to be pruned, shaped, and directed (tied to a trellis and moved in a direction). See, abiding is a constant connection to our Dad. It is not just “quiet time” then we get at it, but it is being “in Him,” and “with Him” in every moment of the day. We are not on our own. We are being shaped, directed, sustained, pruned, growing, and bearing fruit. This is what I would call, intimacy. This was an integral part of Jesus’ relationship with God as His father while on earth. He modeled abiding and the intimacy that lead to.  
So for the next few weeks, I am just gonna share what my heavenly Dad gave me; how we fleshed that out together; the adventure it turned into, and the way it directed my journey by changing the path I walked.

Here are the verses we will be pressing into together! I am excited to walk this out with 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 it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 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 have I loved you. Abide in my love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:4-5, 7-9, 11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Take some time this week to read John 15 and answer the questions below:
- What is our Dad’s desire for us? Why?
- How does that happen? How does that NOT happen?
- How does it sit with you that we can do “no good thing” apart from Jesus? Why?
- What is one step you could take to abiding this week?






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