When I was a freshman in college in Southern California, it was the first time I was living away from my childhood home of Hawaii. I didn’t know anyone on the campus, I was suffering with the smog-infested air, and I was homesick. My pre-med classes were difficult and I struggled to adjust to intense pace of college and adapt to a new environment. My study habits that had previously served me well and allowed me to get accepted to this college, were now failing me. My first semester grades were three B’s and one A-, it was a good showing but not good enough. Berating myself, I uttered, “I will never get into medical school with these grades. It isn’t good enough.”
Something had to change. The courses were not going to get any easier, the environment was not going to change. No, I had to change. I had to completely change the way I studied and I needed to study harder, harder than I had ever previously done. It wasn’t easy and it meant sacrificing all of my free time during that second semester of my freshman year. But slowly, I saw progress. My new system of taking notes and studying was allowing me to be more productive and efficient. As a result, I felt more at ease with my classes and environment. The effort paid off and by the end of the second semester, I had three A’s and one B+. I was on my way to medical school!
This time in my life reminded me when I first accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I did not know how to grow in my faith, all of my usual methods of learning were failing me. I would read the Bible but it felt unfamiliar, transporting me to an ancient society with different traditions. I would speak to other Christians but I was overwhelmed and confused by words like “redemption” and “sanctification”. Something had to change. But instead of my usual habit of looking inward and attempting to marshall my own resources and self-determination, I looked outward and upward to Jesus Christ. I prayed to Him to fill me with His Holy Spirit and allow me to change to become more like Him. Slowly, my prayers became more focused, the words of the Bible began to resonate within my soul, and fellowship with other believers became sweeter.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
When our usual methods and actions seem ineffective, we need to re-evaluate what we are doing. Sometimes the answer is change. But like John the Baptist’s revelation in the verse above, we need to be humble and admit that we must decrease and God must increase; we need to acknowledge that God is in control. God brings us into different situations in life to allow Him to reveal His glory to us. He works in our lives and through others to accomplish His will.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.