In my experience every twenty-year-old thinks the world revolves around him or her, and it’s not something you can just shake them out of. It takes time. It takes pruning, rebuking, and, like John the Baptist, years spent in a wilderness.
“And the child continued to grow and become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” Luke 1:80
John’s level of humility was not something he just came out of the womb possessing. He was just as human as you and I are. Humility was forged in his heart through years spent in the wilderness where he learned to hear the voice of God, came to believe his identity was sure before heaven, chose a lifestyle of extravagant devotion, and courageously obeyed the call of God on his life by trumpeting a call of repentance to a lost people. John did not seek to be great before men. He sought out the one whose greatness is unsearchable, and he was set on fire by that search. John had a magnificent obsession, and it overpowered his pride and ambition.
He was a burning and shining lamp not because he burned before the people but because he stood before the burning One and was set ablaze with holy passion. Furthermore, John said his joy was fulfilled through the hearing of the Bridegroom’s voice:
“But the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:29–30
A treasure of intimacy with God is found in this posture of humility. When we are quiet, when our strife is stilled, we hear His voice—the same voice that spoke the universe into existence. The prophet Jeremiah put it this way: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jer. 15:16). The disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection said: “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
There is a joy in hearing the voice of God that is more real than we know. The joy of intimacy with God—to talk with Him, to commune with Him in fellowship and love—is what the human heart was created for. Your heart longs to make impact in the world. You long to put your hand to something of eternal significance. Then go to Him. Hear Him. He’ll set you on fire. Let Him give you a real message. I’m not talking about a good sermon or a tweetable nugget. I’m speaking of the reality of becoming so obsessed, so on fire for the glory of God that you become a message. Your life will become a living witness of the beauty of Jesus Christ, the risen and returning Lord of all. There is a place in friendship with Jesus where the sweetness and surpassing joy of intimacy becomes more than an ideal. It becomes real.
When you are a friend of God, He invites you into a place of partnership with His heart. He shares His secrets with those who walk in the fear of the Lord (Ps. 25:14). He invites us into a glorious partnership with the Holy Spirit’s agenda in the earth to glorify Jesus as supreme above all—not partnership on a merely cerebral level or in language alone, but partnership in every arena of life. He invites you not just to raise a torch, but to be a torch – burning and blazing like a beacon in the night that points the weary traveler to their destination. He fills His friends with His Spirit, and like John, He gives them a message of hope for a lost people, the message that He is coming.
(read more from Brian's book, Magnificent Obsession, published by Charisma House)