Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Too big to be of use to God

A group of ministers met with a fellow minister who had been highly respected and useful in the service of our Lord.  They had a disturbing message for him: he had lost the spiritual vitality and clarity that he once had.  They advised him to cease preaching for a time and earnestly seek a renewal of the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.  The brother was dumbfounded; he had no idea what was wrong.

He asked brethren near and far to help him, but their counsel did not seem to touch his inner need.  Finally, in desperation, he asked his nine-year old daughter: “Do you have any idea what is wrong with Daddy?”

“Yes, I think I do,” she answered, “I think you are just too big a man.”

Instantly, he knew that was the answer.  Without realizing it, he had begun to feel that the success of his ministry was his own work.  As he had become bigger in his own eyes, he had blocked the light of the gospel from shining out to those he was ministering, too.  When he humbled himself and became small, his ministry again witnessed to the greatness of God.

John the Baptist, speaking of Jesus, said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

This is a hard lesson.  It is all the harder because the lesson does not want to stay learned.  My ego is not like a bicycle or car tire: it is self-inflating.  Time after time the Lord has deflated my ego, so that I could be small enough for Him to use.  There is such a feeling of liberty when a puffed-up ego does not hinder my life.  Yet I soon find that it is beginning to puff up again.

I am beginning to realize that there is no point wishing for my ego to have a blowout that will render it beyond repair.  The only workable option is daily self-denial and cross-bearing.  In other words, a daily deflating of the ego, for it is when we are small and weak that the blessings of God can manifest themselves in our lives.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (1 Corinthians 12:9-10).

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