They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:26-30
Dear Jesus, I’m not sure about a wardrobe of camel’s hair clothing, and a diet of locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4), but I am sure I want more of John the Baptist’s joy—the joy of you becoming greater while I become less. Indeed, John leapt for joy at the very thought of you while he was still in his own mother’s womb (Luke 1:39-40). Who but the Holy Spirit can create such Christ-centered joy? Could you, would you bring a fresh measure of this same joy to my heart?
O, to have a joy largely defined by people making much about you, Jesus—so much, in fact, that I wouldn’t really notice them not making much of me. That would bring greater freedom from the insecurities of my pride and my desire for the approval of people. O, to love the vindication of your name a zillion times more than the honoring of mine. That would bring more freedom from my passion to be understood and my efforts to be in control of my reputation.
Jesus, what would it be like to experience greater grief when people don’t “get” you, than when they don’t “get” me? What would it be like to say with John, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven”, and really, really mean it—to accept the “giving’s and taking-away’s” in life equally as sovereign appointments from your throne of grace? That would bring freedom to love and serve you no matter what.
What would it be like to know you so well, I could say, “I’m not worthy to untie the lace of his sandals” (John 1:27) with joy in my heart, not any sense of self-contempt? What would it be like to know you so well, like John did, that I could bring you my doubts without any hesitancy, or fear of rejection and shame? (Matthew 11:1-15). O to be this free and at home in your love.
Most kind and beautiful Bridegroom, bring more of this joy to my hungry, expectant heart. So very Amen, I pray, in your priceless and peerless name.