Have you ever wondered – on a strictly human level – how it is that the name “Jesus” has become the most recognizable name in the history of humanity? While the Bible records the birth of Jesus in dramatic fashion, almost nothing is said of Him for somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30 years. Yet all the while, God was biding His time. He would bring out His Son to the public eye at just the right moment.
When Jesus’ ministry was growing in popularity, He would make a statement that is remarkable. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19) Jesus never sought fame. He only sought to do what the Father had directed him to do. He was content to remain obscure in Nazareth until the Father called him to do His will.
And before the Father called him, Jesus patiently waited while John the Baptist performed the ministry God had called him to accomplish. I have known preachers who are unhappy because they labor in an obscure field. I have seen business people unhappy because the opportunities that have come to others have never come to them. I know of single people who go through life feeling deprived. I know of people who desperately want to be famous.
I know of people who want to make some kind of a mark in this world that outlasts their time. There are many people who dream of becoming a star one day. There is a driven-ness around so many of us that belies the fact that we can be content in God. It is as if we are on a relentless path either to make a mark that outlasts us – or to impress God in some way by showing Him what we are able to accomplish, something great on His behalf. And both are idolatry.
Why would you want to make a mark in this world since it is what you do in light of eternity that will determine your future? And why would you want to do anything for God – since God is quite capable of accomplishing anything He wants without you. Some of you will remember the story of Eric Liddell, the athlete who became famous in the 1924 Olympic games for refusing to run on Sunday. He was giving up what would have been a sure Olympic gold medal for him, in order to go to church and worship his God.
His favourite hymn was “Be Still My Soul,” which contains the line, “Leave to thy God to order and provide.” Yes, run hard and work hard, but leave to thy God to order and provide. John the Baptist was drawing an amazing crowd along the desert of Judea beside the Jordan River. He was ever popular. He was preaching with passionate fervor. As the Messiah, the Saviour of the human race waited patiently for God’s timing and God’s command.
The king went public only at the bidding of his father. And God had determined that a man named John would prepare his way. So that’s the first lesson we learn from Jesus’ public ministry: Jesus was content to wait in obedience to the Father. And the application ought to be felt in our own lives. We ought to be content if we are obedient to Him. It ought to be enough for any one of us to say, “if the Father has called me to do this at the present hour, I will gladly do that which He has called me to do.” That is Jesus’ bidding, that is Jesus’ will, that is Jesus’ example.
APPLICATION: So if you are the kind of a person who is overcome with anxiety about making your mark, put it aside. Ask God to make you more like Jesus. Spend some time in reflection and prayer about how you can follow Jesus’ example and learn contentment and patience through Him.
THERE IS A DRIVEN-NESS AROUND SO MANY OF US THAT BELIES THE FACT THAT WE CANNOT BE CONTENT IN GOD.
Dr. John Neufeld
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