At this time of year, at each year’s close, I’m often reminded of a personal phenomenon that speaks to the heart of my personality—the planner, goal-setter, reflector. As a function of this introspection I often find it personally frustrating. I see a larger vision of God—with little old me in the context of that. I see my faults and my failings, but also what is ahead. It looks good, but not just now. There’s still too much of me, others and the world competing with my God-consciousness.
I’m then immediately reminded. John the Baptist said of Jesus’ initial coming:
“A person can receive only what is given from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”
—John 3:27-30 (TNIV).
Jesus must become more; John less. That is the crux of what John is saying. And this is indicative also for us. God is to become more in our lives, and we (and our world) are to become less.
Not that we are less than ourselves; certainly not! For God came into our lives that we could be more with him than we could ever be for ourselves alone. Yet, we continually fight this life force of God which seeks for us—our own freedom—a freedom, however, that looks to threaten us—to take that freedom (of will) away. We’re deceived in this. And as such we miss the essence of what God’s got in store for us—in us, for us, but most importantly through us.
At this truth we arrive. Our freedom in God is not about what we want. It’s about what God wants. It’s about what God has come to give us, in his ways, at his appointed time. It’s our true and time-appointed destiny. We can only receive, for we have nothing (devoid of God) of worth to give.
When we finally realise we are the only “me’s” on this earth—God’s only human instruments of this time—we then see the eternal relevance of our lives, right now.
But, of ourselves, we’re almost nothing—just prideful, ignorant and arrogant, good for very little, corpses. God must use us. He must become more in our lives so we can be more for ourselves, for others, and the world at large.
Instead, we find the reverse is operative in life. We, personally, others and the world—in our consciousness—crowd out God’s Presence, truth and wisdom. It is all us; nothing of him.
We cannot take what we can only receive. We cannot force the pace. And we cannot predict what is coming. It’s never worked like that and it never will.
We, like John, are sent ahead of the Spirit of God in the context of others, in their pre-God consciousness. We’re emanations of his Spirit. We lead others with our light to the Light of the World, Jesus our Lord. It is inherent to our purpose.
And we have John’s joy, if we receive what heaven has for us, truly. But, this is only ever a moment-by-moment choice of will submission, of waiting on the Spirit; of trust... unto obedience.
Musing about these things, in the context of a mini-season of reflection, brings me to the fresh realisation that I am so spiritually needy. And not only that—the reason; we were always designed to live after God.
It reminds us of the most necessary Shema; the rendering of the Mosaic command for life in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. No wonder there is still too much of me.
When we’re not living the Shema, we’re not in the position or mood to receive from God. He turns his face not toward us.
We need more of God in our consciousness; less of us and others and a foreign world—all which entice us toward something that is less than our destiny.
© 2009 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: My thanks for the ministry of Pastors Sue Ludemann and Steve Ingram, amongst my own thoughts, for this offering.