Reflecting on changes 2020 brought in daily living, relationships, and celebrations, each one of us can look back on disappointments—the trip that didn’t happen; or the opposite-sweet moments where we had smiles –finally hugging grandchildren. Perhaps we felt a sense of  accomplishment– reading books, organizing and cleaning closets, or finally placing photos in albums..

    We approached 2021 with a new calendar, planner, and fresh start. We’re all looking for changes, hoping this year will be better. Maybe you set goals and made resolutions. We want growth in relationships and look forward to new opportunities to be together. Any of these are good thoughts and noble practices, but each attempt to move forward  must hold one thing: remaining.

“What? Remaining?

We spent most of 2020 remaining!  We sheltered in place, were quarantined; and if we left home, remained in our color-coded church pew or at a table six feet apart in a restaurant. We still use zoom and not face to face meetings. We remain captive to the demands of the pandemic.”

Remaining and moving forward seem contradictory, but in John 15:1-10, Jesus repeats the word “remain” eleven times.  Without remaining, we can’t “do” and move forward. Without remaining, we can’t become. If we are becoming, we are changing and moving. Without remaining, He tells us, we won’t see good results. Unless we remain, we can’t know His heart, direction, and purposes. And when we discover those, we move forward and are hopeful.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5 NIV)

     In the month of love and heart, let’s seek to remain in His love and know His heart. Dig out your list of resolutions and goals. Take a look at your calendar and think about your hopes and seek His perspective.  Read John 15. The world defines success in different tangible ways, some with headlines and awards. Our mindset of success can be to move forward yet remain…in Him.

    Let’s pray to develop the desire and practice to stay in His presence— to listen and walk with Him, to have Him as the constant in our lives, and to abide and remain.

What are your practices and mindset to keep you in a place of remaining?

And how has that led you to move forward?

Well into the first semester, here are 15 Timely Thoughts to Encourage College Freshmen

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