“On that day, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20

I will forever remember the first time I really began to understand this scripture. My sister had suggested that I might need a mini retreat. I don’t recall the details anymore, but I know it was early in my marriage, Jose and I were still getting to know one another, we were blending our families…emotions regularly ran high, and I was worn down. Still, with five kids and a new husband to wrangle, an entire weekend away was out of the question. Sharyn suggested that a mini-retreat–even for just a few hours–might refresh my weary heart.

It was a chilly winter day, but I felt drawn to water, so I grabbed a blanket, my bible, and my journal and made my first visit ever to nearby Lake Bryan. I didn’t really even know how to get there but, somehow, I knew that’s where I was going. Honestly, I don’t know why the lake was open that day. It was cold, gray and windy but I found a spot on that grassy sand anyway. I opened my bible anyway. And I just let that breeze blow over me. With no plan in mind, I sat there for a while, listening to the water lap on the shore, watching the grasses sway, feeling the breath of the Lord on my skin.

Finally, clear of mind and hungry for the Word, I looked down at my bible and just started reading. Then, the wind turned the page and my eyes rested on those words:

“I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

John 14:20

I heard the Lord speaking to me in those words and my response to the enormity of His message was physical. I froze. And just as quickly as I heard the truth, I began questioning my understanding. That can’t be right, can it? Jesus is in me? God? In me? I remember breaking down the sentence in my journal, drawing lines in an attempt to capture the nature of the relationships–God. Jesus. Me. I never did understand how to diagram a sentence, but I gave it my all that day. I urgently needed to comprehend what I was reading. After much journaling, diagramming and doodling…I knew. I couldn’t deny it.

“You are in me, and I am in you.”

It’s true. And, once again, I was forever changed. Just as I was changed the day I accepted that Jesus is, indeed, who He said He is, I was changed again on that cold, gray day when I took a mini-retreat by the water. Jesus helped me better understand who I am in Him and reminded me that He–in all His glory and power–remains in me. And that changes everything.

But we do tend to forget, don’t we?

We get caught up in the demands of the day-to-day, striving to accomplish this goal, or please that customer, be the best host, cross off all the things on the list, check every little box with the kids, and, at the end of the day, still have the charm and presence to be a delight to our loved one.

You know, not one of the things I just listed is without merit. Each may be quite pleasing to the Lord. Maybe. But motive matters. And what is really pleasing to the Lord, anyway? Jesus made that pretty clear.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40

You might be thinking that you do love the Lord and you do love your neighbor…and you’re exhausted! I understand; I really do. That’s why, when I’m in my right mind, I’ve come to apply Jesus’ teaching in this way. I ask myself: Am I doing my work to love and honor the Lord? Is that my motive? Or, have I gotten caught up in the world?

We have to choose. It really is one or the other because we truly cannot serve God and man. Attempting to will totally exhaust our resources, every single time. But, when we check our motives and learn to say yes to God and find the courage to say no to all the others, we aren’t just able. We’re empowered!

“I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me.”

Philippians 4:13

When we feel overburdened, weary, and unable to carry the load it’s usually because we’ve stopped relying on Him and are instead trying to go it on our own. We get so busy striving that we forget who we are, who we serve and who He is. Still, our Father God is so kind, so good, and so generous that he never ever tires of reminding us who we are. Recently, in my ongoing study of the Gospel of John, the Lord has, again, shown me the greatness of His love. The profound depth of His mercy. He’s shown me in so many ways but this one…it’s so good.

“Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?’”

John 14:8-9

Philip has been a witness to miracles, he’s heard Jesus’ teachings and still…unbelief. But Jesus doesn’t lash out. He’s not exasperated, frustrated, or irritated with Philip. He’s patient. Unaffected, really. Philip is blind to the truth. Aren’t we all sometimes? And what does Jesus do? In His unending lovingkindness, Jesus offers yet another gentle reminder. 

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

John 14:9

When Jesus told the disciples, “On that day, you will know…” He was referring to the day of His resurrection. The day he would rise from death, having given His life on the cross to, once and forever, win the victory over sin. He won that victory for me. He won it for you; for all of us. Once and for all, on that day. But, knowing Jesus as I do now, I also know “that day” is every day that I lay my burdens down before Him and set myself bare, fully surrendered to His will, His way, and His life in me. That day…those days…are the best days because Jesus never fails to remind me of the truth, just like He reminded Philip, and Peter, and so many others who, like us, just couldn’t seem to keep their focus on Him. Those days renew me. Because when I sit empty and broken at my Father’s feet, He fills me up to overflowing and reminds who He is and all that I am capable of…in Him.

That cold, windy day I spent by the water was just one in a series of resurrection days that have marked my journey with Jesus; days when life so overwhelmed me that I had no choice but to just stop and rest in Him. Friend, we get tired. We get distracted, lost and worn down. We forget who He is and who we are in Him. But you know, it’s okay. Our distraction doesn’t change the truth. He is in us…always, ever present and able to heal, refresh and restore abundantly the love, energy, patience, perseverance…all of it…that we need to love, serve and be all that He made us to be, in Him.

This is my hope for you. That you will retreat with your Father God and let Him love you to overflowing so that you feel able and free and empowered to go out and be the amazing human He made you to be. If you’re struggling to reconnect with the Lord, or just plain struggling, run to Him. Cry out! He can, and will, handle it. And, if you find you’re not quite sure where to begin, try our Modern Day Mary Listening Prayer Guide. Whatever you do, know this: You are in Him and He is in you.

With the greatest of love,

Joan

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