This poem – actually, a hymn written by Watchman Nee – was shared at our church gathering the other night. It spoke volumes to me, and I wanted to share it. (I removed the KJV style from it, except where it would have affected the rhyming.)
You have said You are the Vine, Lord,
And that I’m a branch in Thee,
But I do not know the reason
Why I should so barren be.
Bearing fruit is my deep longing,
More Your life to manifest,
To Your throne to bring more glory,
That Your will may be expressed.
But I fail to understand, Lord,
What it means – “abide in me,”
For the more I seek “abiding,”
More I feel I’m not in Thee.
How I feel I’m not abiding;
Though I pray and strongly will,
Yet from me You seem so distant
And my life is barren still.
Yet You are the Vine, You said it.
And I am a branch in Thee;
When I take You as my Savior,
Then this fact is wrought in me.
Now I’m in You and I need not
Seek into Yourself to come,
For I’m joined to You already,
With Your flesh and bones I’m one.
Not to “go in” is the secret,
But that I’m “already in!”
That I ne’er may leave I’d ask You,
Not how I may get within.
I am in, already in You!
What a place to which I’m brought!
There’s no need for prayer or struggling,
God Himself the work has wrought.
Since I’m in, why ask to enter;
O how ignorant I’ve been!
Now with praise and much rejoicing
For Your Word, I dwell therein.
Now in You I rest completely,
With myself I gladly part;
You are life and You are power,
All in all to me Thou art.
One of the things that is so striking about this song, to me, is how honest it is about struggling to feel like God is present. Which is something most Christians struggle with, if they’re honest with themselves.
But the response is so full of truth, yet in all my life it lacked power – I am already in Christ, and He is already in me. I’ve heard this probably a million times, but I’ve never been able to rest in it. God’s presence has always been a pursuit, whether something I was supposed to attain through Bible study and prayer, or by attending (or creating) a stirring worship experience, or by seeking His presence through intimate worship. All of those approaches miss the point. We are in Him. He is in us. There is no work for us to do to attain it. We can simply rest in Him. When we gather, we are giving expression to that reality. What a blessing!