Faith Behind The Song: 'Abide' Aaron Williams feat. Mission House

Posted on Monday, June 17, 2024 by Scott Savage

Faith Behind The Song: "Abide" Aaron Williams

Gold stars in Sunday school. 
Straight A's on report cards.
Home runs on the field.

Those methods were how I found worth, respect, and success as a kid. My sense of value came from my performance. But, when I left childhood, I discovered that I had imported that way of operating into my most intimate relationships, including my relationships with God.

Can you relate? Have you ever felt like you have to achieve your way into acceptance with others or approval from God? This pattern of achieving is exhausting. 

Late in college, I got reintroduced to a book called Secrets of the Vine, which helped me reread John 15 with fresh eyes. In that passage, Jesus invites his disciples to abide with him. Abiding is the opposite way of relating to God than the achieving I had known so well. 

When I began to tour vineyards several years later, I discovered the genius, beauty, and depth of what Jesus described there. Aaron Williams perfectly captures the beauty and wonder of Jesus in his new song, Abide.

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The chorus of "Abide" includes themes from John 15:1-8 and John 14:6. 

"You're the way the truth and the life
You're the well that never runs dry
I'm the branch, and You are the vine
Draw me close and teach me to abide."

Williams truly believes that the secret to a passionate life of worship comes through Abiding. In an interview with WorshipLeader magazine, Williams connected our public life with our private moments. "He's (Jesus) just saying let the fuel of that be devotion. Let the fuel for our praise be our prayer lives. Let the secret place give way to the breakthrough moments and the big moments."

Williams certainly catches Jesus' teaching in this mindset. But this mindset is not natural. We live in a time that is all about appearance and presentation. We love filters and perfection. We carefully consider how we'll be perceived, and we work hard to put our best foot forward.

While it's easy to blame apps like Instagram and TikTok for this phenomenon, they are making old patterns much more accessible. In 1 Samuel 10, the people of Israel gravitated to King Saul because he was taller and physically impressive. In 1 Samuel 16, God has to remind the prophet and judge Samuel how His values differed from Samuel and other humans. Samuel is convinced one of David's brothers is the one to anoint because he appears "kingly," while God disagrees.

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"Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Just as our natural focus is appearance, our natural source of strength is self. This mindset is why Williams sings, "Teach me to abide." Abiding is not our natural posture towards life and God. We seek strength from within, while God wants our source to come from Him. 

In John 15, Jesus makes his teaching clear. "You cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing."

Independence is normal. Dependence feels abnormal. This is why following Jesus is as much about learning as it is about unlearning. We learn new ways and leave old ways behind.

Williams' song has incredible power because it brings together many threads of the life, ministry, and teaching of Jesus in a beautiful tapestry of truth. But do not let the beauty distract you from the boldness of the song. When you ask God to teach you to abide, the classroom and the homework may be more uncomfortable than expected.

Jesus spoke what we know as John 15 over His final evening with His disciples before His arrest. Abiding would mean watching Him crucified, processing his death and resurrection, and then stepping out in Spirit-empowered obedience amidst intense persecution. The disciples learned to abide in tremendous adversity. 

But, as my friend Steve Carter says, they kept the remaining thing the main thing. They remained and abided by their rabbi and savior. God changed the world through their dependence on Him. 

He can do the same thing through you and me. What happens in private and secret moments can have a public and visible impact. So, listen to "Abide" by Aaron Williams today and consider embracing the song's invitation. 

Abiding is difficult, but it offers much more freedom than gold stars, report cards, and scoreboards. The way of Jesus is not about our performance —it is about depending on His!

Scott Savage is a pastor, author, and speaker with the best last name in the world. Scott’s writing helps people transform difficult circumstances into places where they can thrive. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona, and loves watching movies with his wife and three kids. You can begin Scott’s newest project, The 21 Day Gratitude Challenge, today.

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