by Elizabeth Musser
Recently, the Lord whispered encouragement (and conviction) to me through a verse from the third chapter of the Gospel of John. We all know that chapter and that verse. But actually it’s not the one to which I’m referring.
As I read the scene after Jesus with Nicodemus, so many things jumped out at me. First, the name of the place where John was baptizing disciples didn’t seem familiar. But then the text became familiar, oh so familiar, because of its tone. The disciples of John get into an argument, presumably about ceremonial washing. But the underlying feeling comes out in the text as John’s disciples come to him and say, essentially, “Hey, Master, this Jesus guy is more popular than you. Everyone is going to him to be baptized now!”
I love, love, love John’s response here: “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” John is completely self-aware. He knows what has been “given him from heaven.” He knows he is only the one who prepared the way for The One. He knows he isn’t God.
A few verses later, John says, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”
And if John, that miracle desert boy, knew these things, when surely he was tempted to take credit for all his baptisms and the baptism of Christ, why, why, why is it so hard for little ole me to admit that I am not God? Oh, I don’t go around claiming this, but somehow I still think I have a bit of divine control. Or at least I act like that.
Oh, to receive only what has been given me from heaven. Only this.
My sweet Lord has given me so incredibly much. And I love the gifts He has given me. But how easy it is to get in the comparison game, like the disciples, and think, “She’s getting more attention as a writer” or “I should be doing that too” (whatever the latest social media trend happens to be) or “I’m no good at all this marketing stuff.”
Fortunately, as I confess the pride and comparison and feelings of being completely overwhelmed, the Lord brings me back to what I have been given. I can almost hear Him whisper to me, “Let Me increase and you decrease. Just do the part you have been given, Lizzie. Just that part. I know it’s confusing. I know it is heart-breaking at times. I know it seems to demand gifts you don’t have of marketing and so much more. But you can’t control the publishers’ whims, you can’t control the trends in marketing, you can’t control amazon. And you are driving yourself crazy trying to do the things you haven’t been given to do. Just trust Me to show you your part, little by little, and then rest. Sure, let those who are helping you know your expectations. But then, let it go. And be oh, so thankful.”
He must increase, and I must decrease.
“Oh, Lord, forgive this puffed up part of me. And as I decrease, again, may I truly receive only what You have given me to do.”
May we each walk into 2017 with this prayer on our lips and in our hearts.
Elizabeth Musser writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet–tool shed–outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s ninth novel, The Long Highway Home, is her first foray into self-publishing. Ooh la la! For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work in Europe with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her new blog.