I grew up in the Deep South in the 60s and 70s.  There, when my African American friends wanted to know my address, they had a unique colloquial way of asking.  They would ask, “Where you stay?”

I don’t know where the phrase originated.  What I do know is that the question – Where you stay? – resonates on a much deeper level than just my physical address.

Had we lived a century earlier in Great Britain, the question may have been something along the lines of, “Where do you abide?” Or “Where is your abode?”  Again, the question has to do with a physical house, but it communicates something much deeper.

It’s a question of the heart, not just the body.  It’s a question of your dreams, your company, your vision, your love.  It’s a question of what you hang on to and what you let go of.  Of who or what touches you for a moment, versus who or what changes you for a lifetime. Of where you turn for security and where your heart finds its permanent places.

Where you stay?

When Jesus Christ invaded history, one of the possibilities He brought with Him was a whole new way of relating to God.  In Old Testament times, walking with God was a matter of keeping the commandments, offering sacrifices for sins, and a relationship in which the Holy Spirit would come and go.

Jesus brought something new.  He made it possible to abide – to stay – in communion with Him.  Not on again-off again.  On and on.

Here’s how the Easy-to-Read translation expresses His words in John 15:

Stay joined to me and I will stay joined to you. No branch can produce fruit alone. It must stay connected to the vine. It is the same with you. You cannot produce fruit alone. You must stay joined to me.

“I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I to you, you will produce plenty of fruit. But separated from me you won’t be able to do anything. If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be like a branch that has been thrown out and has dried up. All the dead branches like that are gathered up, thrown into the fire and burned. Stay joined together with me, and follow my teachings. If you do this, you can ask for anything you want, and it will be given to you. Show that you are my followers by producing much fruit. This will bring honor to my Father.

“I have loved you as the Father has loved me. Now continue in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commands, and he continues to love me. In the same way, if you obey my commands, I will continue to love you. I have told you these things so that you can have the true happiness that I have. I want you to be completely happy. (John 15:4-11).

Stay joined.  Stay connected.  Continue.  On and on.

Where you stay?

What does it mean to stay joined or connected to Christ?  Three things are mentioned here:

On and On Communication

To stay connected means to keep the communication flowing.  You abide in whoever you communicate with.  To stay connected with Jesus means letting Him talk to you and you talking to Him.  Not here and there.  On and on.  The Bible phrase for this is “pray without ceasing.”

Shouldn’t prayer be a discipline, with times and places?  Sure.  It should also be a lifestyle – completely unstructured, continually aware.  Listening on and on.  Interceding on and on.  Turning troubles over to Him on and on.  Praising on and on.

Shouldn’t we labor in prayer?  Yes.  But never any more than you pray from a position of resting in the Lord.  Keep the flow of communication open – here, there, wherever you find yourself.

On and On Love

“I have loved you as the Father has loved me,” Jesus says.  “Now continue in my love.”

Your relationship to Jesus is a love relationship first.  If you ever lose sight of that, you cease to abide in Him.  The problem with a lot of people is that they love Jesus like they loved their high school girlfriend or boyfriend.  Maybe it’s time to stop dating Jesus, and realize He has something much more intimate and consistent in mind.  Read these words again:

I have told you these things so that you can have the true happiness that I have. I want you to be completely happy.

Think about this.  If you are a follower of Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwells in you, then like a vine-and-branch relationship, right this second there is an on-and-on flow of life and love toward you.  You don’t have to make it – just take it.  Enjoy it.  Be completely happy in it.

On and On Obedience

We never outgrow obedience.  This is how we demonstrate who or what we’re following, and who or what we love.  And you are obeying someone or something right now.

Sometimes people get a shady idea of grace.  They assume that grace qualifies us to disobey God.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Grace – truly understood – motivates on-and-on obedience to the will of One who would love me so much.

But this isn’t just obedience to a static set of instructions.  It’s an on-and-on obedience to the promptings of the Spirit.  A continual awareness, as you seek Him, of His heart, priorities, and passion.  Sure, you follow the ones that are aimed at everybody.  But just as faithfully, you respond to the directives that are aimed at you alone.

 

Much is made in the Kingdom about “entering in,” whether we’re talking about salvation, the Spirit-filled life, maturity, or praise and worship.  But what’s left after we’ve “entered in?”

Abiding.  On and on.

It’s not always as glamorous or exciting.  But it’s even more essential.

Where you stay?

In Him, my Dearest Friend.  On and on.

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