Our triune God values remaining.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)
In John 15:4-10 the word “Remain” is used eight times. Eight. The passage could almost read “Words words words remain, words words remain. Remain words words.”
You don’t use a term eight times if you aren’t trying to make a point. Or you are very early in your language learning and your vocabulary is small. Not the case with God. Not even close. So it must be He is making a point.
It is key to note that God is emphasizing remaining in Him, and in particular, in His love. A message for all, regardless if you are in the midst of change or returning. But this week, we are creating space and focusing on remaining on the field. Maybe this passage, the Remain Passage, will anchor you in the sea of change and remind you of the blessing in remaining. Yes, your life may have people coming and going and change may be your normal.
But if you are in a season where you will remain, here are my
Top 10 Reasons I Love Remaining
- The sense of belonging. No longer are you passing through. Your home is set up. This is your neighborhood. Your street. Your people. Your team. Your work. And it is good.
- The sense of community. When you remain, sure, the pollution may drive you nuts, the honking of horns get under your skin, the beggars still break your heart, but. But you are now a part of it.
- The sense of rootedness. Your roots may go deep or they may just be taking hold, but you are anchored in a way that helps settle you deep inside. You aren’t wondering what next semester or next year will bring, you know you will be here doing this. And once again, it is good.
- Being known. Granted you may not be best friends with the whole neighborhood. Yet when you walk down the street you’ve got the flower lady who smiles at you. When you go shopping in the market or the store you have your egg lady or you know the brand of local bread you like. You are known to yourself and others in this context.
- Familiarity. When you remain you know where and how to do something. Now, it might take all day or even several days, but at least you know what you are doing. Amen?! Amen. And you know which local dishes are the best to eat. Yum.
- Routines! Even if unpleasant, at least you can now anticipate them. Remember how it used to throw you when the internet was slowed down for no apparent reason?! It still might annoy the bejeebers out of you, but you know it is tied to political meetings and (Lord willing) how long it will last.
- God at work. When you remain, you can see God at work over time in one place. You might be in an exciting phase where it seems the Church and individuals are growing in leaps and bounds! Or you might be tilling crusty soil and wondering if you are making any difference. One snapshot is just that: a moment in time. However, when you remain, you have a broader perspective.
- Growing knowledge. As the weeks turn into months and years, your knowledge of the cultures grows. Just think of what you know about your city, village, or area.
- Become an “acceptable outsider.” My friend Joann coined the term “acceptable outsider.” Many of us live and serve in cultures where either (a) blending in isn’t an option or (b) the culture has a sense of “insider” and “outsider.” As we stay and learn the norms and rules of a place (and abide by most of them), we move from outsider to acceptable outsider and even beloved outsider.
- Make lifelong friends. Sure, relationships can go deep during short intense experiences. But life can only be lived in short intense spurts and then you turn thirty. I’m kidding. Mostly. The majority of us, even with transition after transition woven in, find a base of people to do life with, both local and expat friends. And we are all the richer for it.
What would be on your Top 10 Reasons You Love Remaining?