Years ago, I heard this old blessing. It has been spoken over Jewish children since before Jesus’ time:
“May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.”
Here’s the back story on that…
In the Israel that Jesus grew up in, children (mainly boys) went to school to learn and memorized the first five books of the Bible called “Torah.” After the age of 14, if a local Rabbi (teacher of the Torah) thought a child had promise in his understanding of the scripture, the Rabbi might invite him to become his follower or disciple. This was a great honor! Families dreamed of this for their children. Only the best of the best were offered the chance to learn under the teaching of a Rabbi!
As the young disciple lived with, learned from and emulated their Rabbi and his teachings, the hope was to follow so closely that they would become more and more like their Rabbi. In fact, the people of the town would see the Rabbi walking the local paths and roads, kicking up dust, followed closely by his young disciples; so closely that they would be “covered in the dust of their Rabbi.”
This seems like a beautiful picture of what the Bible means when it uses the word ABIDE.
Websters uses phrase like “to continue in a place,” “to remain stable" and “to persist.” However, when Jesus uses “abide,” it seems to focus on an ongoing relationship, a growing faith and living a life in love. Listen for it now in these special verses from God’s Word:
Jesus says, “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”
John 15:4 (MSG)
“Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God…God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.“
1 John 4:16-17 (MSG)
I think the big deal here is that the closer we follow God and commit our hearts to becoming more like Christ, the more there is of God in us.
In other words, the more we know about who God is (what’s important to Him, what He wants for us and from us) the more of His character lives in us. It’s like He moves in to who we are! We have flung open the doors to our hearts, not only invited God in but followed Him around until He just moved in to save time!
In my walk with my Rabbi, I find there is a beautiful side effect of abiding. Yes, of course, our connection and trust grow stronger and more intimate. That’s for sure.
But I have been noticing that anything that enters my life that is incongruent with God’s will sets off a sort of alarm. I get this sense of warning, sometimes loud, sometimes in a quiet whisper. It warns me that I have fallen back or away from following my Rabbi. It’s like His Spirit in me is troubled by the disruption that my selfishness or addictive habits bring and so it just doesn’t sit right with me either.
God’s Spirit is not compatible with sin. I think this is why I am made more aware when I step off the path and miss the mark. God’s Spirit in me is troubled, so my spirit is troubled.
Let me put this into a picture for you...
The other day, my sweet Hubby and I went for a walk in the hills near my house. It was a lovely day with birdsong and cool breeze walking with us. As we followed the clear-cut dirt path through the hills, I noticed the path was getting narrower; still plenty wide for us to walk single file, me following him. I thought I could pass him up, just ‘cuz I wanted to be the leader and go the way I wanted to.
You know why I didn’t? When I stepped off the path, I felt the needle-like points of the Yellow Star Thistles stab my knees and prick my shins. That was all the warning I needed!
When I abide and stay in the love of my gentle God, I am gifted the benefit of a close relationship and I'm more aware when I fall back and away, away from his presence, His leadership and His deep, abiding love.
Open the doors to your heart.
Step close as God’s Spirit steps closer to you.
Learn and follow faithfully.
Become more like your Rabbi, Jesus.
Be aware of the pricks and scratches at the edge of the path.
And be covered in the dust of your Rabbi!
Okay, friends. Strap on your hiking shoes. Do some stretches if you need to because here we go! It’s time to get dusty!