What sticks out in this picture?

Last week we dropped our youngest child off at college in Vermont. This was our last picture before departing. The thing that sticks out the most is the shadow. A friend who saw the picture said, “It’s as if there’s a foreshadowing of Jackie decreasing and Madison increasing.” I felt that as we pulled up to her dorm that day. We unloaded all her stuff and she began to set up her room. She wasn’t real interested in my help. It was something she wanted to do by herself. There comes a stage when the parents role decreases and the child continues to grow beyond them.

It reminds me of what John the Baptist said about Jesus, “He must increase but I must decrease.” (NIV) Or as the Message says it, “That’s why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” (John 3:29-30)

Recently I received an email from a woman who was responding to an ad for a Marcella event. In the email she simple quoted John 3:30. Somehow the ad made her think I am more about myself than I am about Jesus. It pinged my heart. Over the past 20 years of ministry I’ve tried hard not to market my gifting (that Jesus gave) nor am I big on CHristians marketing Jesus. Ugh. But when I started The Marcella Project it become obvious in order to get the word out we would have to do some marketing.

I have to admit it’s still a quandary for me.

But more than finding the balance in marketing a ministry, I struggle with applying John 3:30 in my every day life. I know the verse is easy to say but truth be told it’s not so easy to do. For example, this past week I went to see my dad. It’s hard to be with him, I find myself on the defense…Waiting for him to say something that offends and having to decide, “Do I let it slide, do I say something…what is it Jesus you want for this situation?” Difficult relationships are hard enough to navigate without adding the decreasing and increasing thing.

How do we decrease? Think about it. How do you shrink? Is that what the verse is calling us to? Or is it perhaps it’s saying “Hey as others look to you point them forward to me.” I’m not sure but I do know either way it’s hard. It’s hard to apply John 3:30 to every situation of our day. Easy verse to say, not so easy to do.