The Beauty of Decreasing

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“Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.” Acts 14:19-20

“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they were severely flogged they were thrown into prison… About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.” Acts 16: 22-23, 25

I have been writing much about the ugly side of living a life for Christ, and I have been. You know the ugly, that it’s not always roses and sweet moments, that Christ never called us to a beautiful life, but to a complete life. Without understanding this side of Christ and the gospel, you will never experience the trueness of God and his magnificence.

I offer these passages because I have been reading them recently and taking note of how many times the disciples were beaten, stripped, hurt, imprisoned, or disgraced. Not just how they were disgraced, but how they turned to joy in Christ at every moment. And all I can think is how I must follow their example. That it’s worth praising God no matter the ugliness of the situation or world because God is infinitely beautiful and righteous.

Times have been ugly for me recently. I rolled my ankle a week ago and today I did it again. This time it popped and it bruised even more. I visited the hospital and received news that there was no fracture (such a blessing) but that I was developing arthritis in that ankle and I needed a cast to allow it to heal properly. So, now I’m toting around a nice cast on my leg in the Philippines trying to stay encouraged and continue the ministry here. Oh and I am battling with some type of cold or something, because I continue to have a low fever.

Just as Paul and others were beaten and left to die, I have endured my own physical distress. It’s enough to make someone quit, but how can you when you see the courage of the disciples. How can you stop when you know you serve the one and only God who outpours His love through a sprained ankle? How can you stop when you know this is life and there is nothing else? How can you stop when you’re the bride of Christ and you’re dedicated to Him for eternity? How can you stop when others before you went to the grave without stopping? You can’t stop and that’s that.

As Paul got up and went back to the city so will I get up and go back to the villages. So will I continue preaching the good news of God. So will I have courage. Just as Paul and Silas sang songs and prayed endlessly, so will I, because I know who I serve and I know where my heart is. It’s the only hope I have in life—my hope in Christ. So I’m taking this hope to the grave.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30— This is my prayer and outcry everyday. It’s never been about us. It’s always been about Him!

Trent is serving through One Mission Students in the Philippines. Continue to pray for Trent and others serving this summer.

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