Chemotherapy has a cumulative effect. For that reason some side effects get worse as you go through your treatment. Other symptoms remain for a while after treatment stops. Likewise, the gospel must have a cumulative effect.
“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, NIV)
How do you get there? Who are the ones that are able to say, “He must become greater and I must become less”?
- Those who know that God’s plan is for Jesus to be at the center. John the Baptist explained to his disciples that there was nothing to worry about, that everything came from heaven, that the plan was being fulfilled. When the gospel has a cumulative effect we can correctly interpret the circumstances. Instead of competition, frustrated plans, impossibilities, dead ends and closed doors we see the grace of God … we can’t receive anything unless He grants it. We see Jesus occupying a central place. That’s the plan.
- Those who listen and value His voice more than other voices. Every day my voice wants to compete with the voice of Jesus. The voice of my fears, the voice of my desires, the voice of my priorities, the voice of my doubts, the voice of my impatience, the voice of my distress, the voice of my self-righteousness, etc. But the gospel has a cumulative effect if I listen and find delight in His voice above everything else. The voice of God is revealed in His Word.
- Those who know that our supreme joy is for Him to become greater and get the glory. I really want to live for many years to come and every day when I see the faces of my husband and my kids I’m reminded of very important reasons to stay here. But I have been confronted. If I just want to live for myself and my family I’m not experiencing the side effects of the gospel. The ultimate joy is to live when Jesus is becoming greater and we are becoming less…even if this means having cancer.
This chemotherapy cycle left me with no hair, no nails, a few pounds less, and more aches. But it also left a big challenge, am I one of those that are able to say “He must become greater and I must become less”?
I leave you with one of my favorite songs this season: Jesus at the Center (Darlene Zschech/Israel Houghton)
All rights reserved. Rebecca Parrilla (July/2015)