January 12 Devotional

Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.

Opening Prayer: Lord, give me the ability to persist through tedium, to survive without the oxygen of recognition, praise, and stroking, and to do some good things every day which are seen only by You. (Sacred Space: the Prayer Book 2010 by Jesuit Communication Centre)

Scripture Reading for the Day: John 3:22-30

Reading for Reflection: I don’t know about you, but whenever I read these verses about decreasing rather than increasing I immediately start to squirm. They are just so contrary to my nature, so counter-intuitive. I mean, who really wants to decrease, right? And I can never read them without the question arising (from God’s Spirit deep within me), “So, how’s this process going for you these days?”

And, of course, in an effort to avoid the question I immediately start reading the other verses around it, trying to see if there was any way of weaseling out of the question through the context. But nope, no luck. No wiggle room. In fact, the context just makes the question more pointed and difficult to answer. The context is that John’s disciples had come to him because many of the folks that had come out to the desert to see John had jumped ship, and were now going to Jesus instead. “Everyone’s going to him,” they complained. And John’s answer was priceless. “Good! Let them. Didn’t I tell you that I wasn’t The One, but only the one sent to bear witness to The One? The bride belongs to the bridegroom, not to me. I’m just a friend of the bridegroom. My job is to attend to the groom; waiting for His arrival, listening for His voice. And when He comes, my job is just to step out of His way. The bride is for Him, not for me.”

That’s when it hit me. I don’t want to be just the friend. I want to be more than that. I want the attention and affection and recognition that the groom gets. I want the bride to feel that way about me. I want to matter. I don’t want to be an insignificant secondary character in this story, I want a bigger role. I want to be the main attraction; or at least a main attraction. I want to increase. I want to be BIG in people’s lives. I need to be BIG in people’s lives. And there it was...the whole ugly truth.

So I guess my answer to the original question has to be, “Not very well, I suppose.” There is still plenty that needs to die in me, starting with my needy attitude. There is still plenty of decreasing that needs to be done; and not just for decreasing’s sake, but for His sake, so that He might increase. Decreasing so that He might be BIG in the lives of people. That He might grow so BIG that He is all they see, all they want. After all, He is their Beloved Groom; the one who loves them so deeply and passionately that He was willing to sacrifice everything just so they might spend eternity with Him. I pray that I will want nothing more than to help make that happen. I pray that I will learn to step aside and make BIG room for Him. I pray that I will not try to take up all the space myself. I pray that I will learn to be a better friend of the Bridegroom, rather than being so full of myself. I pray that I might embrace this wonderful life of decreasing. And I pray that the next time He asks me this question, I’ll have a better answer.

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Sybil Baloyi lives in Mozambique and runs a preschool for orphaned and vulnerable children. Pray today for the vision that Sybil and her team have to add one new grade every year to the Hlauleka Christian Primary School through grade seven. A new building will be needed and plans are moving forward to complete this by January 2016. Pray today for Sybil as she recovers from surgery in South Africa to remove a benign tumor that has been causing headaches.

The goals of Kentucky Mountain Mission (KMM) and Youth Haven Bible Camp are two-fold: to reach the children and adults of southeastern Kentucky with the gospel of Jesus Christ and to train/disciple those that receive Christ for Christian leadership in their churches and communities. Pray today for these ministries and their leaders William & Dawn Owen and Andy & Erin Owen.

Closing Prayer: More of you, O Lord, and less of me. In the name of Jesus. Amen.