Abiding Dependence, a Collection of Christian Meditations, Helps Us Rest in the Love of God and Discover Our True Identity
Musician, artist and author Ron Block recently spoke with The Stream about his new book, Abiding Dependence: Living Moment by Moment in the Love of God. The book contains 40 meditations on getting rid of the idea of independence and resting in the love of God. He also focuses on finding our true identity in Christ, a lesson he learned while playing in the Alison Krauss and Union Station Band. While he’s still in the band, he’s learned that his identity is not in his own skills as a musician, but as a child of God. Here’s what he had to say.
Nancy: What Does Abiding Dependence mean and what does that look like in our lives?
Ron: Abiding dependence, if I can sum it up, is simply to recognize and build a relationship with God, the present God who lives inside you, and to depend on Him as your source for everything. Your source for the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace.
The diagnostic that John gives in 1 John, he says he that abides does not sin. I used to read that and go, ‘Oh, I gotta try not to sin so that I’m abiding.’ It’s like, no, no, it’s backwards. If I abide, if I recognize the life of the Spirit in me, [I say] ‘You’re my forgiveness, you’re my love, you’re my joy.’ If I’m doing that I’m not sinning. My actions and my attitudes will show forth love and joy and peace and the fruit of the Spirit. If I’m not doing that, and I’m instead trying to take care of situations by my own human power and my own thinking and my own effort, I’m going to manifest the flesh.
Nancy: After writing this book, did any one [meditation] resonate with you more than any others?
Ron: I think one of my favorites is Belief Often Determines Experience. So, belief often determines experience. I just talk about the idea. A lot of times I use musician metaphors.
So, if I’m getting ready to go on stage, and I’m sitting there going, ‘Oh, I’m so anxious about the performance, I hope I learned all the stuff correctly, and oh my gosh, what if I make a mistake? And I don’t think I’m a great musician, and what if people see me make mistakes?’ And if I’m doing all that before I go on stage it’s gonna happen.
It’s just like in sports or anything. Mental attitude has a lot to do with what actually happens. So, as a musician, I have to go into a show going, ‘Okay, I’ve practiced. I was diligent, you know, this is not magical thinking, but as I was diligent, I practiced, I did the best I could with the time that I had. So now I’m gonna step out there. The audience is here, they want to see us, they’re on our side. The band is amazing. This is gonna be so fun. We’re gonna have a blast.’ You go out with that attitude, and the audience has a great time.
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I don’t believe that beliefs determine reality. But they do often determine experience. So, if I focus, and this happens to a lot of believers, [it] happened to me for a long time, if I continually focus on what a sinner I am I’m such a sinner, I’m such a horrible sinner, I look in the mirror and I see a sinner, and I go, ‘At least I’m forgiven.’ If I focus on ‘I’m such a sinner and, and I have such an anger problem, and I have this problem, and that problem,’ what you focus on determines your experience over time.
So, if I focus on Christ in me and Christ living through me as me, and I’m actively recognizing that and trusting Him, it begins to transform my experience. That’s the essence of either abiding in Christ and being a branch in the vine, or you’re an independent in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You’re just trying to not be evil. And you’re hating yourself when you’re evil and you’re trying to do good and you fail, and you’re in Romans 7, you’re living in Romans 7.
Nancy: What do you hope will happen after people read your book?
Ron: I prayed while I wrote it. I said, ‘Lord, if you don’t show up in this book and give people a revelatory experience where they see things in a new way,’ I said, ‘I’d rather go practice.’ There’s no point in me writing a book. I don’t care. I’m not trying to add another thing to my resume or any of that. I just don’t care. I love writing for itself, and I do love sharing my experience with people so that I can share that revelation maybe with some people.
It’s my hope that people would read and each person will get something different out of this book. I think some will read one chapter and they’ll go, ‘Okay, well that’s okay. I already kind of knew that.’ But then they’ll read another chapter and they’ll go, ‘Oh, I never thought of it that way.’ And that, that’s what I’m hoping for, is that revelatory experience I had when my friend said, ‘Ron, we’re not saved by what we do or don’t do. We’re saved by trusting God.’ That was revelatory.
And then I’ve had other revelatory experiences all along the way, and that’s the thing I most wanted to give people, because we’re not changed by information. Now, you can read the Bible, study the Bible, learn all the Greek words and all that stuff, and have tons of information in your head. But with no revelation from the Spirit where it changes how you think. Then it won’t change what you do. So, any kind of life change requires revelation.
Watch Ron play the banjo with Alison Krauss and Union Station:
This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.
Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.