“How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it.” G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
The Season is picking up speed, rushing forward with frenzy and tension; we’re being constantly reminded of gifts we forgot to buy or people we forgot to write; we’re facing difficulties, sorrow or grief in stark contradiction to festivities around us; the checkbook is empty; good intentions fall flat. Our failing self seems to loom larger, while meaningful life grows smaller.
I’m not sure how you handle any of this, but the Lord keeps calling me to quiet my soul, trust His care, and turn my focus back to Him. But since that all sounds a bit abstract, I’ve come up with a few concrete ways for Him to increase, and me to decrease:
1. Rest and recall:
Os Guiness wrote in Long Journey Home,
The decisive part of our seeking is not our human ascent to God, but His descent to us. Without God’s descent, there is no human ascent.
We keep trying and trying to ascend to some performance mark. That mark is different for each of us–it could range anywhere from how soon we finish the gift shopping, to how well we put on a smile in the midst of deep, deep pain or grief. But it’s not about making the mark, performing, ascending. This Season, and everyday of the year, is ALL about the Love the Father demonstrated to us, while we were yet clueless (my words). He Gave entirely. We receive, entirely. He did Everything. We can do nothing.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
What other season of the year do stores and public venues inadvertently pipe songs of worship and praise to the Newborn King? [Though, they’re becoming less prevalent due to the growing secularization of Christmas.]
Listen to the words. Fill your car, home, cubical, iPod, or kitchen with songs of angels. Join shepherds and kings, rich and poor, old and young, in the magnificent Wonder of all that is Christmas! What joy we miss if we fail to truly hear and rejoice aloud that A Child is Born, God and Sinner are Reconciled, the Desire of Nations has come, God with man is now residing, Born that man no more may die, Glories stream from heaven afar, King of Kings salvation brings, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
If you lack music in your world, you can find some in my Music Box, which has a broad mix of Christmas and other worship songs. Both iTunes and Amazon have loads of Christian music artists who praise our Lord with new songs and old! Try out Folk Angel, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and David Crowder Band, for some new takes on the old faithfuls.
3. Give, give, give:
Give praise to the Lord,
give to the poor!
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Psalm 29:2
Worship is a gift to the Lord Jesus, whose Birth we celebrate, whose advent, we require.
Give. We can give kindness, gentleness, goodness, compassion, and understanding. A smile, a tear, a note of thanks, a hug. A prayer.
Something surreal and unexplainable happens in our heart and soul, the grief and sorrow fade just a bit, whenever we give our time, attention, or God-given blessings to someone with less May the Lord open our eyes to our “neighbor,” the lonely, unloved, the poor, near or far, or anyone He brings our way.
And we can give easily, anonymously, and practically to those who suffer most–the hungry, oppressed, needy, abused or persecuted. A little of our “mortal wealth” can bring great gladness and joy!
Here are a few ‘giving’ websites which help enlarge my life, while making my selfish self a bit smaller:
[And a big thanks to Beth Stone who shared the last two suggestions on her website! Thank you Beth!]
Dear Lord and Father, Thank you for all your blessings, great and small. Help me to decrease, and You to increase in my little “kingdom of one.” Enlarge my life, to see beyond me, beyond the present, to people who need you here and now, and forever. Above all, help me not to be ashamed of Jesus Christ, who is the Hope of this Season and every day, the only way, truth, and life. Proclaim Him through my life, worship and giving. In His eternal name, Amen.