“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.” ~John 15:4
Reporting from Scotland…
In the last ten days I’ve had an opportunity to see eight castles, several abbeys and unparalleled beauty and majesty in the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. I am humbled at God’s kindness in allowing me to take this journey on the Landmarks of the Faith Tour with Little Bear and Marilyn Wheeler. It’s a long story of how I got here, but suffice it to say it was all God’s doing. How I praise Him!
On this tour I’ve gotten to walk where some of the most significant people in Scotland’s history have walked, and have seen with my own eyes where some of Scotland’s greatest events have unfolded. Struck with a sense of awe at God’s sovereign rule over the nations and His merciful, gracious hand on the lives of His people (even those who have suffered martyrdom), I am gaining a new appreciation of what Christ told His disciples to do when He said, “Abide in Me.”
The saying “Ideas have consequences” certainly comes to mind when you study the history of any nation. Scotland’s history is a rich spiritual one, yet also full of considerable controversies and great struggles where thousands of lives have been lost. Just look into the lives of the Covenanters, the reformation movement here in Scotland and the Jacobite uprising (the Forty Five as it’s called) to name just a few and you will see what I mean.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” ~John 15:5
As a believer in Christ Jesus, I’ve asked myself throughout this trip, “Lord, what are You speaking to me? What do You want me to learn from all this?” As I looked upon the ruins of castles built to stand for thousands of years and heard the stories of battles won and lost, I heard Jesus remind me, “Abide in My love.”
Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives these definitions of the word abide:
“To rest or dwell”, as in Genesis 29; “To continue permanently or in the same state; to be firm and immovable,” Psalm 119; and “To remain, to continue,” Acts 27.
When I feel that my efforts to be a woman who pleases the Lord or be a godly mother are hindered by my sin, God wants me to rest, to dwell in Him. In my own hands, the walls of the castle of my life will crumble; it is God who holds all things together. Built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and established by His workmanship, it will last.
“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also 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 made full.” ~John 15:9-11
When I am tempted to think that anything this world offers will truly satisfy me more than my Savior, God wants me to continue permanently in His Word and will; He will help me to be firm and immovable. By the power of His grace, I can press on toward godliness in thought and deed, and thus bring glory to His name. Oh, how I long to do that!
“If you abide in Me, and my Words abide in You, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” ~John 15:7-8
When I am discouraged and keenly aware that as a widow, I am faced with limited resources, time and position, God wants me to remain, to continue in Him. I looked up Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage and appreciated what he shared:
Believers, like the branches of the vine, are weak, and unable to stand but as they are borne up. The Father is the Husbandman. Never was any husbandman so wise, so watchful, about his vineyard, as God is about his church, which therefore must prosper. We must be fruitful. From a vine we look for grapes, and from a Christian we look for a Christian temper, disposition, and life. We must honour God, and do good; this is bearing fruit…
The word of Christ is spoken to all believers; and there is a cleansing virtue in that word, as it works grace, and works out corruption. And the more fruit we bring forth, the more we abound in what is good, the more our Lord is glorified. In order to fruitfulness, we must abide in Christ, must have union with him by faith.
Even in my current state of being a widow, I can remain in Christ, continue in Him. As I trust God my Husbandman to care for me as perfectly as only He can do, even when that involves pruning, and abide in Christ by keeping His Word, I can ask for all that I need and He will graciously supply. He will enable me to bear fruit for Him, abound in what is good and ultimately bring Him more glory.
A TESTIMONY OF GOD’S CARE
Speaking of giving Him glory I do have one little story to share about my trip here in Scotland. On day two of my trip, I drove my rental car the ten miles from my lodging to visit Inveraray Castle, a working castle and seat of past and the current duke of Argyll. After a delightful tour, I decided to take some photos of the grounds and garden, as well as walk down the road through the woods towards Argyll estates.
After capturing a good many photos and upon returning to my car I discovered there was no rental car key in my purse! I must have dropped it somewhere along the road. I had stuck the key in a Velcro-enclosed pocket on the outside of my purse and it must have slipped out somewhere along the walk!
Carefully retracing my steps, I started thinking about the significance of not having the key. I’m stuck at the castle (“Maybe they’ll have pity on my and let me spend the night…”); I am supposed to leave in the morning for the next night’s stop several hours away (“Hmmm…can’t do that without a car”); key fobs have buttons you can press to help you locate your vehicle (“Oh, Lord, please don’t let anyone find the key who might be tempted to steal the car!”)
After thoroughly searching the road (the few folks I passed going down must have thought I was being very anti-social with my gaze firmly planted on the ground!), on the way back I thought I had better ask the folks I passed if they had seen a key.
I fought the temptation to start crying, though I was close to tears, and kept saying, “Lord, You know where that key is, even if I don’t. You can certainly find it for me, for surely I cannot. Father, please find the key for me.”
As I was walking back to the car and pondering what my next move should be I noticed a man walking my direction I’d seen earlier working on the grounds of the castle. “Excuse me, sir, you wouldn’t have happened to find a car key, would you?”
He answered with, “What make of car is it?” To which I replied, “A Peugeot.” At that moment, he pulled my key out of his pocket and said that two elderly women, one of whom was in a wheelchair (and therefore probably closer to the ground), had spotted the key on the castle grounds in the gardens.
The gardens! I forgot I had first walked around the gardens after locking up the car, then walked down the road! This nice man shared that when the women turned the key in he didn’t know how to find the owner, but then a couple came into the gift shop informing him there was a woman walking down the road looking for a key!
You can imagine how grateful I was to this man who took the time to walk down the road to find me. I almost hugged him on the spot!
Walking back to the car this time, I couldn’t suppress tears of gratitude to my Father who heard my cries, and when I asked, answered my prayer! How great is His love!
In Edinburgh on the royal mile between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood (or Holy Cross) Palace sits the shortly lived-in, final home of John Knox, the man who with a full, undeterred passion for Christ and His Word, brought the reformation to Scotland. I’m thankful for the opportunity to tour the home one day during our time in Edinburgh and came away more impressed by and grateful for his staunch commitment to bringing and living out the gospel in Scotland.
And though at times I feel a bit overwhelmed (like the day I was looking for that car key!) or when we, as Christians feel outnumbered as we try to live God-honoring lives in a godless society , it is good to remember John Knox’s wise words—“A man with God is always in the majority.” Amen! Praise to Him who sits on the throne!
Thanks for your continued prayers—Soli Deo Gloria,