Posted by: donnatallman | November 17, 2012

Pruning the Predictable – Reflections on John 15

Photo by Donna Tallman

I love Saturdays! Today is Saturday, so I set my alarm to get up early. I was so eager to get going today that I woke up before the alarm went off and zipped through my morning routine. Hurrying as I got ready to go, I grabbed my computer, charger (just in case), Bible, journal, old Blockbuster card, fuzzy hoody, neon post-it-notes, 3 x 5 cards, and a wad of pens – more than 20, less than 40 (I’ve been told I have a pen addiction), and set off to the local coffee shop to drown myself in chai and rewrites.

My predictable, unchangeable routine is vital to my ability to create; to order words on a page in a meaningful way. It’s also vital to my ability to abide in Christ.

Whoa, wait a minute. Is that a good thing?

Before I started writing this morning, I was reading through John, chapter 15, and came across verse four. It says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

Abiding in Jesus when I don’t have a predictable routine has been a serious challenge for me…one I need to figure out soon because Christmas is coming and the first thing to go during the holidays is routine.

We’ve been on the road and operating without a routine since August of this year. I can’t even remember when I last had a “normal” day because every day has been different – interesting but different. Our travels have taken us to Oregon, Colorado, North Carolina, and Maryland. Along the way, we picked up Philip and Steven who joined the journey and have added new dimensions and opportunities for us to serve together. Some places we’ve stopped for only a couple of days, while at others, we’ve spent a week or longer.

Nothing has been predictable. Bob, Philip, and Steven seem to function well regardless of their circumstances, but I don’t. I have a difficult time transferring my healthy habits and personal discipline to unfamiliar locations and schedules. Sometimes I just grit my teeth and hang on for the duration of a trip hoping to find a rhythm in the chaos. At other times, I just give into the disruption and quit trying to maintain my own “normal.” If I do that long enough, however, a spiritual crash is sure to follow.

Photo by Donna Tallman

“Abide in Me,” Jesus said. Abide. The word can also be translated, “to stay, remain, or dwell.”

“Stay in me.”

“Remain in me.”

Jesus calls us to stay connected to him no matter what – regardless of our circumstances. If he’s calling us to remain “in him” even when we experience chaos, it must be possible to do so. It must be possible to abide even when we have been battered by the storms of life or when our routine has been disrupted. It has to be possible, or Jesus wouldn’t have told us to do it. Theoretically, I believe it is true, but practically, for me it’s a complete struggle.

I am a creature of habit – I function best and am at my best when I operate in routine. I’m also a prisoner of those very habits – I lose traction when I can’t control my environment. It’s a conundrum to be sure, but I do know this: when unexpected chaos breaks out around me, it’s in those moments that I most need to abide in Jesus.

We are going into the Christmas season next week when life gets hectic, unpredictable, and out of the ordinary. Am I going to postpone abiding with Jesus until January when all the festivities are over and life returns to normal? No, I have to find a way to maintain my walk with Christ no matter what Christmas throws at me.

Since I haven’t figured this thing out completely, I wonder how do you abide in Jesus when you’ve lost your routine?

I know one thing. Abiding is important; it’s all through Scripture.

Jesus was abiding with the Father before His incarnation – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  John 1:1

Jesus came to earth to abide with the disciples“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

Now we can abide in Jesus and He in us“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”  John 15:4

What helps you stay connected to Jesus when circumstances threaten to spin you sideways?

© Copyright, 2012 by Donna Tallman.




  1. Music helps me to stay connected when circumstances threaten…like when I recently had an MRI.Oh, that’s another story. Repetition of the verses or chorus of hymns or other songs we sing in choir is very meaningful to me, sort of a mantra or meditation. It helps to chew on it a while and when times are stressful POW, it’s there in my mind instantly. I just have to feed that music in on a regular basis to have it ready.

    • Music can speak volumes in just a few short lines! I don’t know if you’ve ever checked out Keith and Kristyn Getty’s website. They are current day hymn writers. (In Christ Alone, Power of the Cross) Sometimes when I need a good dose of perspective, I’ll listen to their music.

      I like the idea of planning you brought up, Glenda. I do think it’s important to have those things that feed our spirits on hand and at the ready should we need them. I have a playlist on my computer that does just that. I’ve also started carrying my camera wherever I go because I find looking through the lens of a camera helpful to seeing my world and experiences from a new perspective. It also opens dialogue with Jesus because we talk the entire time about what I’m seeing and how he views what I’m seeing.

  2. Great post! I think I’ll keep this on my phone to remind me as I will return right into the Christmas mayhem. Maybe this year it will be different! Maybe one less tree in my house?? 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. This is a timely blog. I’m fighting an upper respiratory virus, so I’m too tired to read the Word, but I can listen to it.
    I love singing hymns too…I have all four of the John Mcarthur/Joni Erickson Tada/Bob and Bobbie Wolgemoth CD’s, and I keep some in the car so I can sing while I drive…it is hard not to feel the presence of The Lord when we are praising Him, reciting doctrine, and pouring out our hearts to Him.

    • It’s challenging to be on top of things spiritually when you don’t feel good…hope you get better quickly, Doree!

  4. Thank you for your beautiful words and your honesty with yourself and with us. Leaves a lot to contemplate within, as usual!
    Glad you are back home.

    • Thanks, Adrianne. It’s good to be home. Now to process all the adventures we had and celebrate all the amazing people we met on the East Coast.

  5. During this season, I try not to “beat myself up” when the day holds only a small amount of time with Jesus. I rest in the fact that Jesus is with me always, even when my efforts at quality alone time fails. How creative can I be with the time I have – that is the question!

    • Yes, we need to extend grace and space to ourselves in the midst of our journey. I’m like you….tend to beat myself up when things don’t go as I hope. We need to be kind to ourselves! 🙂

  6. mi amiga!
    nina’s very close friend is the baby sitter of keith and christian getty. in fact, she also goes to their house to help out, esp when they had a christmas party last year. their music is so beautiful.

    • I love their music…their lyrics are deep and meaningful to me! They are also unique in their corner of the music world so I hope they keep writing and producing new songs for years and years to come!

  7. Abiding….I’ve given that word a lot of thought. For me it is a discipline as the part Christ died for always wants its way. In times of distraction or disruption, discipline can exit but prayer always keeps me aware of His presence. For one, I am grateful for the time you take to wrap concepts with your gift of words.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: