by Bill Delvaux
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9) These words of Jesus have puzzled me for years. I sensed they were so important. And yet remaining, staying, resting in his love always eluded me. And here’s why. It was the exact opposite of all my usual patterns of being and behavior. To overcome this, I have had to expend maximal effort learning to rest, learning to relax, learning to remain in his love. How could resting, relaxing, remaining be so hard? I got a visual cue for the process from the sport of track.
For eight years I coached high school track, and one of my biggest challenges was with the sprinters. Almost all of them started with the assumption that the way to run the fastest was to try the hardest. That meant expending all their effort in trying to make their legs turn over faster and faster. It seems to make some kind of sense, kind of like lifting weights. You just push and strain your muscles to get the weight up. But for the sprints, especially the 100 and 200m, nothing could be further from the truth. If you run that way, you will never achieve your maximal speed. What you must do is the exact opposite. I would then tell them that you will only run your fastest when your body is totally relaxed. But it’s one thing to hear that. It’s another thing to do it.
So I would use these 30m drills to help them learn. They would accelerate up to nearly full speed and then run that for 30m. But each time they did it, I would give them a part of their body to relax along with specific form cues. We would work on the legs and then relaxing the hands and shoulders, and then the whole face. Finally, we would try to run with everything totally relaxed. But even with those drills, during the rush of adrenaline in an actual race, they would often forget and go back to old habits. So we would repeat the 30m drill over and over again. Some sprinters would begin to get it. For others, it would take a whole season or even a second one before they got the feel for this. And here is the point: they had to expend maximal effort learning to relax. And when they started sprinting that way, it was a beautiful thing to behold. It also got them their fastest times!
It struck me sometime later that remaining in the love of the Father through Jesus was something like this. If I tried hard to be good, tried hard to do the right things as a believer, it never worked. The deep things in my heart that needed changing never budged. What I needed to do was the exact opposite. I needed to expend maximal effort just resting in His love. It’s how the race of faith has to be run.
So how did I start doing this? By taking time each morning to read the Scriptures and enter His presence through them. And then I would seek to feel what Jesus feels towards me, that He really loves me, that I am safe in His embrace, that He delights in my company, that He is not ashamed to call me a brother. As I started doing this over and over, so many stuck parts of my heart began to shift and move. I was being transformed by simply resting, by relaxing. And out of that, I found that I had the freedom of heart to obey Him during the day and to love others around me.
This is the shift we all need: to spend maximal effort resting in His love. And when we start to run the race of faith this way, it’s a beautiful thing to behold.