As I sit here sipping my morning coffee and watching my husband read, I have the pleasure of sharing this echo of my heart with you now...for the second time. Yes, the nightmare of writing in the modern age of technology has struck yet again and for reasons that shall go unexplained my original post was lost in the vast sea of ERASED documents. But as I'm sitting here anticipating the glory of the hues as the first violets and light blues peak out from the blackness of the cold morning...I remember why I'm so thankful for winter. Because when you live in the cold places as I do...winter sucks the life out of you. You lose all the gorgeous leaves and all the everything dies outside, but the sunrises and sunsets will change your life. And for me that has happened in the form of a reminder that hard times always illuminate the beauty of Christ who is even more steady and sure than the very sunrise and sunset. And so...in my moment of deep and burdensome writer's despair (aka losing a piece that you really really loved), I'll enjoy the fact that I get to write it twice (and pretend that I'm happy about it).
Let me first start out with a warning. You will be tempted to skip the suggested reading and rely on your knowledge of this verse via "Christian Culture" and familiarity. Do not give in to this temptation. See here I'm even doing that thing where you just click on this highlighted portion and the page will magically appear. Or if you are old fashioned you can open your bible. It couldn't be any easier, so don't cheat yourself. Go read John 3:22-30. I promise you, it's a good one. I've now read it probably 15 times in two weeks, thus the creation of this blog post.
So this is the "I must decrease and He must increase" verse. I'm sure I've read this verse via many a bumper sticker, bible cover, and t-shirt and I'm positive I had read it at least a couple of times in the bible prior to this. But this time my mind pretty much exploded and my heart melted as one thing came clearly into the crosshairs: Identity.
John's identity was absolutely striped from him in this passage, but because of his response it doesn't seem that way at all. He makes it look so easy.
In this passage, Jesus had just recently been baptized by John and has begun his ministry. The two men are in the same region as they both baptize and share the good news with people. John's disciples approach John and are basically like "Uh, John? Your cousin Jesus...he's over there baptizing people. Everyone is going to him cause... he is the Messiah you talk about, but doesn't he know that baptizing is kind of your thing?"
John could have chosen his identity over Jesus' ministry and no one would have blamed him.
He could have begged Jesus to stop baptizing because it was encroaching on the life he built.
He could have said "Jesus, this is my thing. It's who I am. Please don't take this ONE thing. I'm doing this for YOUR kingdom, and I'm good at it. I'm doing good things--things of eternal significance, so please just let me keep this. Please don't take this. I don't know who I am if I don't have this. You can change or take or bring anything else Lord, just please not this. Please." But...
Instead of "this is who I am"
Instead of "this is my thing"
Instead of "I don't know who I am without this"
Instead of "you can have anything else"
John knew about himself what most of us often forget about him. He knew that he wasn't really "John the Baptist," he was John a Worshipper of Christ. Worshipper was the only thing about his identity that was ever meant to last.
Worshipper of Christ is the only part of MY identity that was ever meant to last.
Clawing at the temporal parts of my identity, begging out of desperation for them to remain is a prayer I've come to know quite well. And surrendering my life, my very identity--it's heartbreaking at times to put the exalted areas of my self to death.
It's excruciating in fact.
After talking labor and delivery with some girl friends recently...all of us remembered together how horrible the pain was, how present the fear was, how imperfect the circumstances but how wonderful the end: holding the love of your life in your arms, face to face. That's what this is like too. This. Is. Hard. Saying goodbye to the life I so proudly built, proclaiming "Just give me Jesus" is by a landslide the hardest, longest road with the most beautiful views and glorious destination. Nothing. Nothing can compare to the joy and freedom that encompass my heart as a worshipper of Jesus Christ.
It's ok if everything I know and love and hold dear about my self is changed or different or uncertain. Look at John, with the greatest privilege of baptizing Jesus also came a time of great change in his own life. His heart of service and worship of the Lord never wavered, and that is how he made it look so easy. So I know I can do this thing. I can loose my grip on our home, my friends, my status, my reputation, my daily jobs, my husband's career, and my dreams. I can choose Jesus over myself, it is possible. And I don't even have "Katy the Writer/SAHM/Wife" attached to my name. So that's an easier start than John!