change toward something smaller or lower. Today I read seven life-altering words, said by a rough and tumble (literal!) Baptist:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Jesus’ fame was increasing in the ancient world. John-the-Baptist had drawn enormous crowds–of folks sincere on repenting, of looky-lou’s whose curiosity brought their toes near the river’s edge, of haughty self-importants who scoffed at John’s garb and recoiled at his viper-talk. Even with all this attention, John understood something. Jesus was it. Jesus was the culmination of every dream. Jesus created the bees that fed him.
So, John said the seven words. Did he go on to reach Baptist fame, featured at revivals and mega-churches around the known world? Not if you count preaching in prison or donating your head for the whim of a dancing girl. John suffered. Perhaps he died with the seven words on his locust-eating lips.
I, however, am more bent toward fame. I like the spotlight. Revel in attention. I hate to admit it, hate to share it with all of you, because it reveals so much about my heart. I wonder if I am more dedicated to my reputation than to my relationship with Jesus.
Maybe that’s why I cry when I sing the song “Your Renown.” I wept when I first sang it, when I realized that the cry of my heart was to do whatever He wanted, go wherever He sent me. I held my daughter Sophie’s hand and we both cried through it shortly before moving to France. It’s all about His name, His fame, His renown.
I want to diminish my ambitions this year. That doesn’t mean I won’t pursue what I feel God is calling me to–to proclaim Him in unique ways through the written word. It means that I want to spend more time near Jesus. I want to believe, like Helen Keller, that life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing. With Jesus increasing, with His influence over my heart increasing, I will more keenly walk that adventure.
I’m most frustrated when I say, “I must increase, but Jesus must decrease,” when I scratch and claw my way to my goals at any cost.
Oh Lord, help me to say a blessed reversal. Help me to pen words for Your renown, for Your eternal fame. I want to decrease. I want to have a heart that swells with joy when You increase on this earth.
It all boils down to our hearts, doesn’t it? We can appear like the locust-eating man, but if our hearts aren’t emanating his, we are simply rogues, faking our way through life. I don’t want to live a fake, ambition-poisoned life.
To live the seven words, I’ll have to give up my longing to be served. I wrote about that a bit on my website. Whether I sell one book or ten thousand, I want to have a heart like Randy Alcorn who views fame as a platform for servanthood.
So, there’s my New Year’s Diminution.
Seven difficult words.
One fame-bent heart longing to emancipated to praise His renown.
Seven days a week.