increasing and decreasing

I have an increasing sense that the most important crisis of our time is
spiritual and that we need places where people can grow stronger in
the spirit and be able to integrate the emotional struggles
in their spiritual journeys.

Fr Henri Nouwen

β€œChristian spirituality, the contemplative life, is not about us.
It is about God.
The great weakness of American spirituality is that it is all about us:
fulfilling our potential, getting the blessings of God, expanding our influence,
finding our gifts, getting a handle on principles by which we can
get an edge over the competition.
The more there is of us, the less there is of God.

Eugene Peterson


(snow encrusted camel / Julie Cook / 2017)

Have you ever found yourself holding a cup or glass of liquid that comes all the
way to to very top…
Someone has either over poured or just wasn’t thinking…
and so now obviously, you can’t add nary an ice cube to the glass without
sending the contents cascading outward and downward…

To add the ice, you’d need to first sip out a good bit or pour out a little
of the liquid, making room for the ice.

And on top of that, you have to be oh so very careful while just trying to get
the glass up to your mouth without sloshing everything everywhere.

If then our lives are just as full, filled to the very brim…
full of external entities, as well as full from within from our very
egotistical selves, how can there any space or room…for anything?

And yet we somehow think we can continue squeezing in just one more thing
or taking on one more little extra…shoving and pushing much like an
overstuffed suitcase.
Obviously we can’t sit on our lives trying to get things sufficiently and
tightly closed…
so clearly something is going to have to go.

Much like the time I was once returning from a trip abroad and my suitcase
weighed over the allotted allowance by 7 pounds….
I had a choice…either I was going to have to pay a hefty fee for being overtly full,
or as we did, I had to scramble right then and there at the check-in counter,
yanking things out while my aunt was stuffing my residual into her lighter bag.

These are the moments when we begrudgingly realize that there is simply no more
room to take on anything or anyone else for that matter—
as there is neither room nor space to truly do justice to whatever or whomever
we are trying to squeeze in…

Squeezing for the sake of squeezing just doesn’t make much sense…
as it’s truly just a waste of energy and time.

So its time to let go and lighten the load.

And what better time is there than a new year—
the perfect time to sort and purge.

Yet it’s one thing to purge ones world of excessive stuff, emptying closets,
drawers, shelves…hauling this and that to the Goodwill or even the dump….

But the real question, the looming question, the question that is really about life and death, is how does one purge one’s self of the excessive stuff of self?
How does one make room internally, opening up space for a God who wants to be
invited in?

Since this is the time of year when we are reminded of the need to be about change…
as well as the importance, or lack thereof, of both our internal space and of our
place in this world of ours,
perhaps we are now more open to the notion of a truly crucial need.

We must decrease, as He must increase…..

This is to be an action, not a reaction, that is to become a conscious action
in that it shall be a lasting process….
A process which requires both thought and time—as it will not be accomplished
in the blink of an eye or within a day, a week, a month or even over the course
of a year…but rather over the remainder of one’s lifetime.

This isn’t about losing weight, exercising, getting organized, being thrifty…
it’s about change…a change for the sake of a relationship…
and for a life… not fleeting and overwhelmed, but focused and everlasting…

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and
has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.
He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances,
that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two,
thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body
through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace
to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit
to the Father.

Ephesians 2:14-18

27 comments on “increasing and decreasing

  1. Gail Johnson says:

    I love this, Julie. The new year brings thoughts of renewal and removal. Great post!

  2. atimetoshare.me says:

    He will increase as we decrease. What a perfect way to illustrate this. It’s time for me to clean house and make more room for the Lord.

  3. bond0servant says:

    Yes less of self and more of Him daily.

  4. lorriebowden says:

    Sending you sweet blessings for all of the above and more!! πŸ˜‰
    Happy New Year! ❀

  5. Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging and commented:
    Excellent post SC!! πŸ™‚

  6. Wally Fry says:

    Indeed, wee seem to be of the same thoughts today in many ways. Meanwhile I shall run try to pour some more in the glass. Have to always be aware of why, and that it’s for the right reason. Thanks, Julie

  7. Amen,Julie! Well said. Out with the old, in with the new. It’s like when your dresser drawers are so packed with clothes you can’t find anything and you just dread getting dressed. Alas, just let a few things go and you’ll enjoy what you have so much better. πŸ™‚

    Sometimes there isn’t even a problem to solve, it’s just a simple matter of “less of me, more of God.”

  8. Okay… so you wrote this just for me. πŸ˜‰ I’ve been praying diligently since Sunday about what God would have me let go in the coming year… My glass is WAAAAAY too full. :-/ And yes, I have asked God to show me the paths He has for me… and told Him I will take those… He obviously wanted me to know that this is exactly the prayer of surrender that He was waiting for from me. Thank you for listening to Him, dear Julie. You have blessed me greatly today! Huge hugs and much love!

  9. This is really on point. A lot of American Christianity is about a means to an end or “ten steps to receive your blessing” instead of worshiping God just because He is God. I think when we seek God unselfishly he grants us revelation that addresses our needs. I am slowly learning to get rid of the unnecessary and make room for more of God. A few people think I’ve gone crazy but I’m now able to be still and at peace. Thanks for the affirmation!

  10. Lynda says:

    Contemplation provides the opportunity to recognize with John the Baptist that “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) In my experience (and I can only speak for my own experience) as I became disciplined in my practice of contemplation, my priorities altered and although it wasn’t a conscious process, others detected this change. This is a beautiful reflection Julie! And one that is greatly needed. Blessings.

  11. Tricia says:

    Well said Julie! As He increases I must decrease. Not always happily so but always for the better. πŸ™‚

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