By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

Decreasing October 29, 2007

Filed under: spiritual growth,Uncategorized — Marissa Henley @ 10:10 pm
Tags: , ,

It has been a long time since I’ve posted, in part because there are lots of different ideas wrestling around in my head and I’ve had trouble organizing them into coherence. I’ve also been dealing with sick children for what seems like ages, and so I’ve spent quite a bit of time feeling restless, exhausted, frustrated and full of self-pity–none of which are all that conducive to spiritual growth for me. I’m so thankful to be doing BSF, which requires me to spend time in the Word even when I want to forget it.

Last week when Christopher was feeling especially crummy, he asked me, “What is God doing to me?” I don’t know the answer for Christopher, but I know what God is doing to me–He is teaching me that I need to be decreasing so that He may increase. This idea came to me in my BSF notes a couple of weeks ago, and it needs some context, so let me back up a little.

Apparently, I am quite forgettable, and it drives me nuts. Countless people meet me, sometimes more than once, and then don’t remember me at all the next time they see me. There was one woman I knew who met me about 5 times (including one time she was in my home!) before she remembered that she knew me. But this idea of myself decreasing so that God may increase means that when people meet me and interact with me, they see Christ. It is not my reputation that increases, but God’s glory.

This is a really difficult one for me. When I meet people, I’d much rather they think how friendly or witty I am, how well-behaved my children are, or maybe even how nice I look. I want them to think I’m somebody worth knowing and to want to spend more time with me (or at least remember my name next week). If I’m going to point people to Christ, then I’d have to stop thinking about how memorable I am, how well-liked I am, how trendy my clothes are (or aren’t). And if my words and actions are those that would always bring glory to God, I could be seen as weird.

I think an idea that is closely tied to this is something our BSF teaching leader talked about last week: our citizenship in the kingdom of Heaven trumping our citizenship as Americans. (See Ephesians 2:19 and Philippians 3:20 if you’re not sure what I mean by citizenship in the kingdom of Heaven.) She said that kingdom citizens have no use for earthly gain, but only fight for eternal gain (that is, wanting others to see Jesus Christ). She also encouraged us to ask ourselves: Do my attitudes better reflect my heavenly citizenship or my American citizenship? Have I renounced the things of this world? Is Jesus more valuable to me than any earthly thing?

Honestly, I’d like to think I can hold on to earthly gain as long as Jesus is in the mix somewhere. That I don’t have to actually renounce the attitudes and priorities of our culture as long as I’m not as worldly as the person next door. That it is okay to store up earthly treasures for myself as long as I tithe.

But I suspect that if Jesus truly was more valuable to me than any earthly thing, those earthly things would be utterly without value to me. And I would boldly proclaim Christ to others without any thought of how they would remember me but with only the hope that they would remember Jesus. I would give myself daily in sacrificial service to my husband and kids because it isn’t me that is important. And I would see that God truly meets all my needs in the glorious riches of Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

I’ve got a long way to go, and I’m not 100% certain I want to take the journey. But I’m going to keep praying that God will change my heart to desire Him more than any other thing, that He would cause me to decrease so that He may increase, and that He would give me eyes to see how truly worthless are the things I’m tempted to chase after.