Hi everyone! For those of you who do still follow this blog, and that may very well be nobody, I have some news. I don’t really post much here anymore. I post more on tumblr. So my tumblr blog is abbyleighstiles.tumblr.com. Thanks guys!
I wish I was better at keeping up with this, but sadly I’m not. Organization is not my gift. So where do I start? This is pretty much the only time I have to do this so I figured I would play catch up a bit. Well, I’m a freshman in college, and it’s crazy to say the least. The classes are huge, people are everywhere, and everything is always moving. Something is always going on in Athens, Ga, in more ways than one. First of all, I have never in my life been to a place where the Lord is working like he is in this city. I mean seriously, you can go to a variety of church services every single night of the week. No joke. There are ministries everywhere, and most of them are connected, well, the solid ones are at least. I see many of the same people, mixed in with new people, at every service I attend. Where do I go? Well, I go to Wesley on Wednesday nights when I can, I go to house church on Thursday nights, and another house church on Tuesday nights. Why do I go to two different house churches? Well, that’s sort of a long story that I may tell later. But anyway, God is moving. I honestly believe he is quickly uniting the ministries in Athens to prepare for the revival He wants to bring, and trust me, I mean quickly. It’s crazy the connections people have with each other in this city and it’s crazy how the Lord is bringing even more people together. Churches all over the place are uniting for prayer meetings, services, retreats, and so many other things. Something’s definitely moving, and things are most assuredly changing. Now granted, I’ve only been in Athens for about four or five weeks, and yeah, it’s been quite the adventure for me so far. There have been quite a few times in the last month where I’ve sat down and said things along the lines of, what the heck am I doing here Lord? What am I supposed to do here? It gets overwhelming at times to be honest, but the Lord always reminds me to take it a day at time. The Word says not to borrow tomorrow’s troubles, and that has definitely become an applicable verse in the last month. So what does the Lord want me to do in Athens besides go to school and do well? I wish I could answer that, but I can’t. I only know the heart he has given me for the city, so I can at least share that much. It’s a simple vision and a simple desire, but that’s all I got right now. So here we go. For the last year I’ve heard so many people, pastors, friends, and mentors, talk about community, the importance of getting planted in a church and staying there. The importance of connecting with people in a community and growing in Christ with those people. And don’t get me wrong when I continue my story, I am so for that. I understand that we need a community of believers to grow with and encourage. So when I got to Athens and even before I got there, I continually asked the Lord to put me where he wanted me, and to allow me to partner with a group of people who were already partnering with His heart for the city. And believe me when I say he has put me where he wants me for now. Now for the weird part, or maybe not so weird, depending on how you look at it. Considering the fact that I spend much of my day walking to and from classes, I always ask the Lord to speak to me during that time, to share with me His heart for the people around me so I can see them as He does. And every time I do that this whole community thing comes back to me. I think about where the Lord has put me and how these incredible brothers and sisters I have are going hard after the Lord, and I’m just so overwhelmed with gratitude. But even through the thankfulness for all He has given me, there’s still this tugging at my heart that I just can’t shake. Every time I walk to class and see the hundreds of people around me, my spirit says, “I want all of these people to be my community.” I know, this sounds sort of strange, but it’s just my heart. I don’t have a passion specifically for the homeless, or for children, or for the abused, or for youth. My heart is just for people, all people, no matter how old or young, rich or poor, saved or unsaved. I love people. Not in the surfacy, overly friendly, say hi to everyone sort of way, but in the I would do absolutely anything for you, and I desperately want you to know God’s heart kind of way. See, that’s the thing. God wired me such a way where I cannot stand to be acquaintances with people. In fact, there are few things that drive me crazier. I want to know people intimately. I want to know their hearts, their struggles, their triumphs, and who Jesus is in them. Anything less hurts my heart and frustrates me quite honestly. So what’s my heart for Athens? It’s simply nothing less than to see the city comes to Jesus. Too simple? Maybe. But that’s my heart, to know Jesus and make him known. How do we do this? By allowing the small communities all over Athens to come together and reach their places of influence. Unity is so important in the body, seriously. I know this was quite a simple blog, but I meant for it to be. I supposed this is sort of my introduction to life in Athens, and trust me when I say there is more to come. I love you all so much and would appreciate your prayers for Athens. And prayer needs you have please do not hesitate to let me know. More to come soon!
If you haven’t figured it out by now, but I am sure you have, this blog is simply me sharing the things that the Lord is teaching me, well some of them anyway. So what now? What’s the Lord been speaking to me? Well, I’m still trying to make sense of it all, which can be difficult sometimes, but He is faithful to reveal in His own time. But make no mistake, even though He reveals in His time, I must still use my time to seek Him out and seek the things I wish to understand. Proverbs 2 says the Lord gives understanding, and I stand on that promise.
Devotion. What is it? What does it look like? And where has it gone? You know, I’ve been to more churches in this region than most people I would say, and I love the people I have met and made connections with, every single one of them. I’ve been in church after church, and don’t get me wrong, I am planted in a community and am growing in the Lord with them, but still, something in my heart longs to know the congregations around me. Every time I drive past a little church on the corner, I desperately want to go in, to meet someone, to find someone there I can talk to. Why? I would tell you if I knew. I’m barely starting to understand this myself. I’ve been to so many churches that have awesome communities, awesome music, great preaching, bright lights, and friendly greeters. They grow together, fellowship together, serve together, and it all seems to be great, but there’s always something missing. And please don’t be offended by what I’m about to say. These are simply things that are on my heart and have moved from there to my lips, or my typing fingers rather. But anyway I have come to realize that the “churches” in this region, and most likely others as well, have no relationship with one another. I have seen churches that are located within a quarter-mile of one another, and yet they have never darkened each others doors. Is this normal? Am I missing something? Are we missing something?
About a year ago my friend and I were sitting on my roof just drawing and talking about the Lord. All of the sudden and only for a brief moment I saw a picture of youth groups from around the region praising and praying together, lifting up a sound that would literally shake the earth. And although this picture has pretty much remained at the back of my thoughts, it has since driven me to desire this kind of unity, a unity where not only do we meet together to pray, but we go out together beyond the walls of a building and bring our community to the Lord. Can you imagine what would happen if the congregations in our region came together, prayed, and were then sent out to take the community for the Lord? I guess it would sort of look like the church in the book of Acts. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…..and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Are we devoted to these things or only to filling seats in the building we call “our” church?
So what led this you may ask? Well, I will explain a bit. Friday night we had a prayer night at the Warehouse down in cumming. I emailed youth pastors, talked to friends in many churches, and received many what I thought to be excited responses. And if you don’t know the Warehouse is not affiliated with any church building really. It’s a place that desires to PARTNER with churches in equipping youth in their giftings in the Lord. So we set up and got ready to pray and as 7:00 rolled around there were about 25 people there, and that was about the number that stayed. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not upset in the least about the number of people who came. It was an absolutely incredible night and it would have been just as incredible if it had been 4 of us. People were healed physically, emotionally, and had words of encouragement spoken over their lives. But I had to say I was rather confused. So many people seemed excited and told me personally that they were coming, and I understand that sometimes important things come up, but really? I invited half the county! Why would people want to miss out on the opportunity to come and pray and seek the Lord with their brothers and sisters that are a part of other congregations across north Georgia? Did every person find something more important to do? Or was the idea of praying with others from different congregations just not all that appealing? Where does our devotion lie friends? Do we have an apostolic heart or an isolated one? I don’t mean to sound harsh, but my zeal far outweighs my care about people’s offenses. I have seen preachers, pastors, youth ministers, and many others stand before a crowd and say, “We want revival! We want unity! We want a move of God!” God’s not the one standing still! Revival is for the whole church, and will not be contained inside a building. The problem is not that we don’t have a widespread revival among our people, it’s that among our people, there is not a personal revival that burns within. God says seek me and you’ll find me. He is not hiding from His people, he simple wants a devoted people that will search for the secret things of His heart.
So about now, you’re either angry, criticizing what I have said, you’re curious to know more, or your heart is burning for the kind of unity that will allow cities to be taken back for the Kingdom of God. And you’re probably thinking, “Ok, you sure have a ton of complaints but not too many solutions.” Allow me to help. I want to offer the opportunity to get together and pray. This will be open to anyone and everyone. We always have at least one consistent place that will allow us to come pray and worship, the Warehouse. We have a prayer room and it can always be opened. If you want us to meet at your home or your church then please let me know! We can meet anywhere. I would love to do this once a week this summer. It’s high time we get out of our isolated boxes and come together in prayer for this community. We can even take a guitar out to the park and worship and sing praises there. I have not set a date and am open to suggestions. If this is something your heart burns for as well please send me a message on facebook, Abby Leigh Stiles. I don’t expect everyone to be on board with this or even see it as possible, but my heart is to be connected with more than just one little congregation. It’s great to be planted with a community that can support you in your growth, but sometimes those little communities need to come together and THE CHURCH and not a church. Even if no one else comes you will eventually be driving through cumming and see a little group of teenagers with a guitar singing to the Lord in the streets. Oh friends let’s do this. There are strongholds to be broken and relationships to be built. Thanks for listening to my thoughts and burdens. Love you all deeply,
Sometimes I like going out to eat by myself. Although I do quite a bit of people watching, I do some thinking as well. I was sitting in a restaurant this evening alone after getting done with prayer at the Warehouse. I sat there for a while just sort of reflecting upon the day when a couple walked in. I immediately knew they were not married, so I suppose they were dating or something. I’m not exactly sure about the nature of the relationship. Now please don’t think I’m some sort of creeper, I promise I’m really not. I didn’t feel particularly lead to go and speak to the couple, so I just sat there while the Lord whispered in my thoughts. I thought to myself, “Have I ever had someone come up to me and ask me if I was saved in the marketplace? In fact, I don’t think I can even remember the last time someone tried to share the love of Christ with me in a church building…” I started to think about it even more. If I were to ask a good sized youth group, “How many of you have ever had anyone come up to you and try to pray for you, encourage you, or tell you about the Lord?” I can only imagine the blank stares I would get. Maybe a hand would go up, but it’s really unlikely. Now if we can all sit back and think, “Wow. I don’t think anyone has ever tried to share the Lord with me,” I think we may have a problem on our hands. So as my thoughts turned in my head, my attention went back to the couple. I thought, “If no one I know has ever had someone walk up to them and tell them about the Lord, what makes me think anyone has tried to tell this couple?” They left shortly after walking into the restaurant, and I was left there with lots of questions. Why is it that every other religion seems to be able to evangelize without fear, but the ones who know the truth seem to be crippled by it? What are we afraid of? What am I afraid of? I can honestly say that the worst thing that has ever happened to me is that I’ve been told no thanks, I don’t want any prayer. I went to Jesus Culture last year, well for the last three years, but last year in particular was interesting. My group was sent to North Point mall to pray for people. I’d done this before, but I was still afraid. As I approached the first person my heart was beating out of my chest, my hands were like ice, and I really wanted to turn around and run away. I finally made it to the woman and just asked her if there was anything we could pray with her about? She said no thank you and walked away. That’s it? That’s what I was afraid of? My gosh, I felt ridiculous for being afraid. Tons of people told us no, but it was worth it for the few that did let us pray for them. I honestly believe we are afraid of rejection, and this is certainly not from the Lord. We must live our lives knowing that we belong to the Father who loves us, knowing that we are accepted as his beloved, and knowing that he extends his authority through us and allows us to operate in a power and authority that is not our own. The alternative and sadly more common is to live our lives from a spirit of abandonment or an orphan spirit. When we are not confident in who we belong to the fear of man and fear of rejection takes hold of our hearts and cripples us from accomplishing the plans and purposes of the heart of God. I know. Sadly I lived in this fear for 11 years of my life. But then I discovered that God is full of promises! He has promised his children in 2 Timothy 1:7 that God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. He promises that he will never leave us or forsake us, and if our God is for us then who can stand against? Our God is a God of the mountaintop and of the valley! He is the beginning and the end, the one who extended his power through David and slayed the uncircumcised Philistine, the one who consumed the water soaked altar for Elijah on Mt. Carmel. He is faithful, He is forgiving, and His goodness knows no bounds. Who is like our God? So step out, be bold, and it won’t be you doing the talking anyway. If the mormons can walk from house to house and share what they think is the truth, surely we can walk up to someone in walmart and ask them if they need prayer. Hope this encourages someone. I only write the things the Lord is teaching me in my life. Love you all.
Oh, and by the way, it is our covenant promise that we have dominion over the earth. Speak to the storm in the name of Jesus, don’t run away in the name of fear. Prayer is powerful.
So for various reasons, this is probably my 5th time reading through the book of Esther, and every time I seem to uncover something new. So let me take you through this book and share some of my findings. I believe that while there are so many truths we can apply to our lives in this book, there is one major thing that God is trying to say. “Watch how I can orchestrate the steps of my people. ” In the beginning of the story King Xerses displays his wealth through feasting and parties for 180 days. There is food, wine, gold, silver, and just about any other thing of worldly value you can imagine. The King summons Queen Vashti, and she refuses to come to him. Through this seemingly insignificant act of disobedience the Queen is forever banished from the presence of the King. But I suppose when you think about it, this really isn’t the beginning of the story. The true beginning starts with a little girl named Hadassah. Her parents die so she must be raised by her cousin Mordecai. I think sometimes we don’t think about what she went through, and how difficult her life may have been up till this point. We all think of Queen Esther, favored by the king and deliverer of her people, but her story did not begin there. In fact, it was probably never even a desire of her heart to be taken from her people, forced to live with strange women and compete for a place as queen. She was just a young Jewish girl, left by her parents death for her cousin to raise. But here she is, in an unusual family due to unusual circumstances only to be thrust into another circumstance that was less than ideal. So we begin here. Her identity concealed and the lives of her people in jeopardy.
This is where the wheels in my head begin to turn. I am completely blown away by even this much of the story. Esther’s entire life up to this point has been simply a preparation period that would lead her into another time of preparation. Let me explain. Before she was even born, the Lord knew that he would use her to deliver his people, so her entire life up to this moment has simply been preparation for her to fulfill the destiny placed on her life since before she was even conceived. So from here she is launched into more preparation. Once she enters the king’s palace, she must undergo beauty treatments for an entire year. This will prepare her to enter the presence of the king. But here’s the funny thing, she had no idea why she was in the situation she was in at this point. She had no idea that Haman was plotting to completely wipe out her people. So I am going to call this the accelerated preparation period, because this year is the time right before she is quickly propelled into her destiny. Here is the part I find most important. All the virgins were allowed to choose anything they wanted to take into the presence of the king, from jewelry to perfume, they could choose anything from the king’s palace, but Esther only took what the king’s closest eunuch recommended her. Here is my encouragement. If you know that the Lord has you in a preparation period, intimacy is key! Go deep into the Lord’s presence and dive further into His word. Ask Him what He wants you to do during this time and what He wants you to take with you into the next season. This is a time where you get to know the King’s likes and dislikes so that when the time comes for you to be launched into the next season, you will be ready with the knowledge of God. Esther had the knowledge of King Xerses and won his favor. Do we have knowledge of our King? This is a question we must ask ourselves if we desire to do anything for Him. You can never accomplish the purposes of a heart that you do not know.
So Esther finds favor with the King and becomes his queen. What’s next? I find this verse extremely interesting, “But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.” Just because Esther had been given more authority didn’t mean she was to reject the spiritual authority that God had placed in her life. The Lord gives us spiritual mothers and fathers for a reason. They speak wisdom, life, and council into our lives when we need it most, not necessarily when we want it. Because Esther obeyed Mordecai’s instructions, her life and the lives of her people were spared. Think of what could have happened if Haman found out that Esther was a Jew before she revealed it to the king herself? We must submit to the spiritual authority that God has placed in our lives. Connect yourself to a spiritual mother and father.
We also must understand that when God chooses to place us in a position of authority, it is completely for His purposes, not for our own glory and fame. Mordecai says to Esther, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Every step that God had orchestrated in the life of Esther came to this moment. What would she choose to do with the authority given to her? I believe that it was only because of preparation, intimacy, and spiritual authority that Esther was able to make the right choice. In one moment in the presence of the king, Esther delivered a nation. She saved the Israelites only by the God given authority granted to her. Not only was her nation saved, but the very gallows that Haman was going to use to hang Mordecai were used to end his own life. Funny how things work. Sometimes God will use the very plan of the enemy to bring about his own demise. Mordecai was granted favor and authority in King Xerses house, and Israel was able to make her enemies her footstool.
So what’s the point of all this? Well, I suppose there are several. Number one: Sometimes God will use unusual and sometimes inconvenient circumstances to prepare you for a destiny only you can fulfill. Number two: Preparation periods must be utilized. We must, must, MUST be intimate with our Father and come to know His heart and the knowledge of His word. Number three: God can use anyone. Sometimes we feel like the preparation time will never end, but we must understand that just like in the story of Esther, there are several things going on at once. Not only does God have to prepare you to fulfill his purposes, but there are others that He is raising up as well. He takes the pieces and makes the puzzle, and our job isn’t to try to find out where we fit, but simply allow him to guide us to the right place. I have learned and am still learning that it’s better to just go where he says go and then listen from there. Esther had no clue why she had been placed in the king’s palace, and it wasn’t until the time came that she realized why she was there. Who knew that a young fatherless and motherless Jewish girl would one day be used to deliver an entire nation from impending death? Who knows what the Lord has in store for each of us? But rest assured, He has a plan, and He always orchestrates the steps of His people who are willing to listen for the gentle sound of His voice. So here’s some encouragement. Don’t rush the preparation. Consider it a precious time to get to know His heart like never before, because you never know what the next season of your life may look like. Maybe, like Esther, you’ll be placed in a position of authority where you must make decisions that can only be made from a place of communion with God. Maybe you’ll be called to go overseas with no money and no plan, maybe you’ll be led to an unfamilar place with unfamiliar people. Who know but God? Don’t despise the preparation. Let the potter mold you like clay before he sticks you in the fire. The better the clay is prepared, the better it will withstand the licks of the flames.
So right now I am sitting at school. All the basketball players and coaches are gone so what does that mean for the rest of us? We sit around and do nothing. May as well make some good use of my time right? I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately, especially since this is such a time of transition in my life. I feel like I’m in sort of a waiting period I guess, allowing the Lord to continue to prepare me as I have been for a long time now. But this is different. I know the Lord is getting ready to launch me into an entirely new season in my life, and I suppose that I am getting anxious. As most people now know, next year I will be leaving my little Christian school world and attending UGA. For someone who has been to small private schools my whole life, this will be quite the change, but you know what? I have never had more peace about anything in my entire life. Though everything will very quickly change, I’m ready for it. I’m ready for the Lord to teach and grow me even more, even if that learning process is difficult. Yesterday I was meditating on the verse in Philippians that says, “And the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I had never really thought about the last part of the verse, and the Lord began to speak to me about how His peace truly does guard our hearts and our minds from the cares and worries of this world. It reminds me of Stephen the martyr. Even when they were stoning him he looked up into the heavens and saw the Lord. I am slowly learning to allow the peace of God to protect my heart and mind, and for that I am so thankful. Most of my friends will be going to Lee University next year, and I am so excited for them, but I know that it’s not for me. The Lord has given me a heart for those who are lost in total darkness and has directed my heart to Athens, and though I will be going alone, I know the Lord is with me. He especially used a friend of mine to speak to and encourage me, which I desperately needed at the time. Though there have been some nay sayers, I have had so many incredible people that love the Lord encourage me, and to all of you I am so very thankful. Times of transition can be hard, but I remember that God took Moses into the desert for a long time before he used him to accomplish His purposes. Often times God takes us into the wilderness while he prepares the ground for rain, so when the rain comes we will also be prepared. Even if I will be going into darkness, I am ready to leave lukewarm.
I want to encourage everyone that is also in this time of transition in your life. First of all don’t settle for the comfortable just because you’re afraid of failure. If you are truly seeking the will of God, you will not miss it. Learn to tell the difference between the sounds of his voice and your own desires. Remember that a good thing can be a bad thing very quickly if it is not in God’s will for your life. For example, the desire to be in ministry is a good thing, but don’t even compromise intimacy for notoriety. I want to encourage everyone that no matter where the Lord takes you, no matter how obscure or famous your position in this life, simply seek His face. He has given us all the grace to simply seek Him in everything we do. We should wake up in the morning and have a yearning for Him and Him alone. The world of ministry can never replace the intimate knowledge of God. I know this post doesn’t have a ton of insight, but it’s just what’s going on in my life right now. Love you all,
To abide. What does this mean? And why is it mentioned so many times in the New Testament? Well, these are questions I have been asking myself lately, and I’m still not sure I have arrived at an answer, but I am certainly still on the journey. I have come to the revelation that our society is all about striving. Even from a very young age, the idea of striving for absolute excellence in our lives in very nearly ingrained into our minds. We need to strive for good grades, strive to succeed, and strive to be noticed. You can’t very well say to yourself, “I am just going to abide in the world and everything is going to fall into place. I’m going to be a wonderful and successful person!” It just doesn’t work that way. The problem is, we have taken a worldly version of striving and replaced the biblical concept of abiding. Now I am not saying that everyone has done this, so don’t get me wrong, but truthfully, our minds have been so molded by the world that we are having to sort of undo what we have learned. Think about it. The world says we must climb the ladder to be successful, Jesus says we must decrease so he can increase. The world says we must have confidence in ourselves and believe that we can do anything, but Jesus says that our righteousness is as filthy rags before him, and we must put our confidence solely in him. We cannot take customs of the kingdom of darkness and apply them to the kingdom of light. It simply cannot work. We are only ambassadors to this world, not citizens. Sadly, some of us have taken a liking to a world that is not our own. We are chameleons, blending in to the darkness that surrounds us.
So about this abiding. What does that even mean? There are many Hebrew and Greek words for the term abide, but there is one that is used profoundly in the New Testament. The word is pronounced meno. It means to remain in reference to either a place, time, or to a state or condition. It can also mean to wait for, await one, or to survive or live. Please don’t stop reading because I pulled out the Greek. Bare with me just a bit longer. So what are we to abide or remain in? Well the Bible says that we are to abide in his love, in his Word, by his teaching, and in the light. He also says that his words MUST abide in us. How is that possible? Read his Word!! To really abide in him and know his voice, you must know his word. Once a day in Bible class is simply not enough. We need to take the time to search Him out in his Word that he has so graciously given us. The word of the Lord is precious and should never be treated as a common thing. John 15:7 teaches, “IF you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” But here’s the thing. When his words truly abide in you, the desires you have will not be the same desires you had when you did not have his words abiding in you, and when your desires line up with his will and word he will happily give you the desires of your heart. Why? Because they are his desires too! When you really begin to seek him in his Word, you come to the realization that half the things we desire and long for are not of him, but of the world. Abiding in Him changes us.
We also must abide in his teaching. 2 John 1:9 teaches us, “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” Wow. Have you read the teaching of Christ lately? Pretty heavy stuff. He teaches that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Can we honestly say we abide in that teaching? Do we hold steadfastly to it? Do you believe and understand that to live is simply to glorify God and to die is only gain? This verse clearly says that whoever does not abide in his teaching does NOT have him. If that doesn’t make you want to go read the teaching of Jesus and double check some things, I don’t know what will. This is serious stuff, black and white. Despite what the world has told you, there is no in between. There is abiding, and there is not abiding. But that’s not the only verse that makes me fear for the American church. 1 John 3:6 says, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen or known him.” There are times where this verse could make me question my own salvation. I know I don’t go out and do drugs and party and such, but what about the times where I am utterly disobedient to him? What about those times where I choose things of the world over Him? Things to think about.
The last thing I want to share is a connection I made recently. Most Christians have heard the story of the prodigal son. This man had two sons. One stayed with his father, while one took his money and went out into the world. The son strived to do everything on his own, but he fell flat on his face, literally. The son realizes what a horrible mistake he has made and returns to his Father, who joyfully celebrates the return of his lost son. But his other son is upset by this and is angry with his father. He points out the fact that he has faithfully served him all these years and has never had a goat killed in his honor. But his father turns to him and says, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.” You see, Satan, who is the ruler of the kingdom of darkness, wants us to strive by our own strength to do what he knows we never can. But the Lord, who is rich in mercy, gave us Jesus, and because of Jesus we do not have to do anything by our own strength. We simply abide in him, and because we abide as co-heirs with Christ, the inheritance that he has also belongs to us. This is what that son who stayed with his father had to understand, and those of us who abide in him should rejoice when the lost come home! We should praise God when one lost son steps out of striving and into abiding in His love. The Lord is so very good to us. I pray that we never treat as common the One who lavishes such an extravagant love on us.