Where did we get the picture that to follow Jesus means we are to become less and less?
Think about the people Jesus encountered…the ones he invited to freedom, restoration, abundance, and yes, “losing yourself to find yourself.” Everyone who had “ears to hear and eyes to see,” became more and more, not less and less. Consider the woman at the well, the man begging on the side of the road, those who were blind and paralyzed, the outcasts, the sick, the broken-hearted, and the wounded. They all became more and more when they were touched, taught, and transformed by Jesus.
Even the harder teachings of Jesus were invitations to become more and more of your very real self and more and more fruitful. As I highlight in my book, when He said you must “disown yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me,” he also taught if we lose our self we will find our very self. Jesus told His followers that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” More and more!
Consider 2 Corinthians 3:18. It says we are being transformed with “ever-increasing glory” or from “glory to glory.” Our ultimate destiny is to become more and more glorious!
More glorious! What does this mean for you and me? In Hebrew, “glory” means “heaviness, weight, or substance.” In Greek, part of the meaning is “to recognize a person or thing for what it is.” Stop and ponder this for a moment. If we insert these definitions into this scripture, it means we are being transformed into more and more substance and into more and more recognition of who we really are! Wow!
Yet, how do we live into this picture of our divine destiny? What keeps us from experiencing and expressing more and more substance and more and more of our truest selves? These are questions worth asking.
A few years ago, I was struggling with these questions and my identity. I didn’t know who I really was. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I wasn’t even sure what I believed. And, I wondered what would motivate me to get out of bed in the morning.
I took time away to seek some answers. I pleaded with God to show me what I was missing or what I needed to do. Three pictures popped into my mind; each one included both Jesus and me. In the first one, Jesus was very clear in the front and I was very blurry in the background. The second picture was the opposite: I was clear and dominant and Jesus was fuzzy in the back. In the third image, both Jesus and I were standing shoulder to shoulder. We were both very clear and our images took up the whole picture frame.
As I reflected on these three pictures, I realized the first image was the traditional way I believed my life was supposed to be…all of Jesus and none of me. I thought I should just fade into the background and be nothing so that Jesus would be exalted. This notion was confusing as I sought to understand my purpose and identity. How could I have a distinct calling and be nothing at the same time?
The second picture illustrated times when I’m self-absorbed, self-reliant, and self-protective. I keep Jesus at a distance without much influence in my life while I focus on creating an acceptable persona of myself. I understood that in this state of being I couldn’t know my calling and true identity either.
As I pondered the third picture, I heard a loving whisper in my spirit, “We can both be clear. Your full presence won’t diminish Me, and My full presence won’t diminish you!” From this “holy aha moment,” I later received a very direct calling from God that propelled me into my current work. I became more and more clear and Jesus also became more and more clear to me.
Which picture describes you? Which picture are you living in? Do you believe you should become less and less as you seek God’s will for your life, but you’re not sensing any direction? Are you depending on yourself to figure out your purpose or trying too hard to be out front and noticed, but feel unsettled, uncertain, and on your own?
Or, are you standing shoulder to shoulder with Jesus in this journey of life and purpose. Embrace the truth that He has destined YOU to become more and more glorious and more and more clear about your true identity and calling. Jesus stands with you. You can also stand with Him as you live into the picture of your divine destiny!