He Must Increase- The Word Works Series!

Formerly a journalist, Lois approaches her blog, Waxing Gibbous, with facts. Facts about life, the facts of a story she is living, and the facts of who our Lord is and how He is working right now. She lives and writes truth, and I’m blessed to share this space with her today.
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When I was in my early 30s, I wrote a book about infertility. I worked on it during the long months after my husband and I ended our three-year effort to conceive and before we adopted our first daughter from China.

I believed then—as I still believe now—God’s promise to work all things for the good of those who love him, those who are called according to his purpose. So every chapter, which mostly focused on the spiritual and emotional aspects of infertility, flowed out of my desire not to let our struggles go to waste.

My book was published by a traditional Christian publisher in 2003. The business was different back then; huge numbers of social media followers were not necessary to secure a book contract because social media barely even existed.

I had no blog, no platform, no speaking career. I was simply a former journalist, wife and mom-to-be with some deeply held beliefs about how God uses our pain for his glory.

In the months after the book’s release, the publisher arranged for me to promote it on several national Christian television and radio programs. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this process—it was fun to be on the other side of the interview after so many years of working as a reporter.

After about a year, though, I received the phone call no author ever wants to receive.

The editor was very sorry, but the book hadn’t lived up to sales projections. As a result, the company was going to sell off the remaining inventory at a deeply discounted price and put the book out of print.

I was angry and embarrassed, but what I felt most at the time was bitter disappointment. I couldn’t believe that the project I had poured my heart and soul into would be snuffed out so soon.

For a while, I held on to an irrational hope that the editor would call me back and say the company had made a mistake—that the decision makers had changed their minds about putting my book out of print.

That call never came.

What did come, though, was a message from the Holy Spirit. A familiar scripture that made a new impression on me—shared as part of a Bible study I started on the very day the publisher called.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

(John 3:30)

These seven words were spoken by John the Baptist near the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, but in my heart, I knew they also were what one of my mentors would call a “right now word from God.”

In those disappointing days after my book went out of print, I sensed that my current season of influence—however small and short-lived it might have been—was over.

God wasn’t just ushering me off the stage,

He was guiding me out of the building completely.

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And somehow, John 3:30 helped me be OK with that.

I had no way of knowing that, in the years ahead, I would decrease so much I almost disappeared completely.

Soon thereafter, we moved to a new state where nobody knew about my writing background. Life was good in many ways, but the wilderness stretched long ahead of me. For several years, my words simply went away.

Years later, once the fog dissipated and the desert was mostly a memory, I started writing again. I took it slowly at first—with an article here and there, then a blog. Another book is in the works, but my past disappointment often hangs like a dark cloud over my current efforts.

One morning not too long ago, I read an article by a literary agent about the kind of platform that publishers require these days. It was discouraging, to say the least.

Forget being in the ballpark. I’m not even in the same universe.

Later that day, as I was thinking about what to write for this series, John 3:30 came to mind again.

He must increase, but I must decrease.

In God’s economy, it’s not about numbers, platform or audience.

It’s not about the logical, most obvious way that God can use our trials for his glory.

It’s not about us at all.

Is there a message in there for you today? There is for me, though I confess it doesn’t make much sense right now.

fulfill purpose

As I look to the future—to what I sense God is calling me to do, writing wise—the way forward is a bit murky. How it all fits in with God increasing and me decreasing, I’m not sure.

One thing is certain: While I need to do my part—even in the face of near-insurmountable odds—God will be the one who gives the increase.

At this point, only He knows what that might look like. But I do know it won’t happen unless I get to work.

So a promise and a prayer from scripture that I ran across several months after my editor called is giving me faith to take the next step, even when the next step is just to write another sentence.

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.

Lord, Your love is eternal;

do not abandon the work of your hands.”

(Psalm 138:8)

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.
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17 thoughts on “He Must Increase- The Word Works Series!

  1. What a powerful post, Lois. This goes right along with what God has been teaching me. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Such a hard lesson to learn, but it is always for our benefit.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your heart, your disappointment and the wisdom you have gained. I have never even had a book published. i just blog and there was a time I stopped doing that. Your words are sobering and challenging to me. It gives me a lot of food for thought. Thank you! Peace & Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lord have mercy!!! Did I need to hear that today!
    Lately, I’ve been feeling like ‘discouragement’ is the new smoke screen used to keep me from my job. I spend more time counting up all the reasons why something CAN’T happen, but that just takes my eyes off the ONE who it’s all for anyway.
    Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for your journey.
    Blessings on you, stranger-friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: WordoftheWeek: Fulfill – FIRSTandSECONDblog

  5. Bethany, this so resonates with me. Oh how I strived….and then I realized it’s all about Him and He will complete the work. He gifted me so it was His responsibility to grow it! I did my part, remained faithful, and today my writing bears good fruit for the eternal Kingdom. He is a good, good Father! #15 at WWI and your neighbor!

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  6. Wow Lois I am so glad your link was next to mine today at Crystal’s site today! Thanks for sharing Bethany. God knew I much I needed to hear this inspiring message today. That verse in Psalms is one I definitely need to memorize myself. I struggle at times with some of the same doubts and discouragement. What a beautiful reminder that God is in control. I need to make sure I am doing my part regarding my health and my writing and trust God to handle the rest. Thank you again for such an encouraging post. So blessed by what you shared here. Have a wonderful week and may God bless you and yours in all your endeavors!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Horace, I went around and around about whether to send Bethany this post or something else, and the finally decided to do this one. Then this past Sunday, my pastor actually preached about giving up control from John 3 and focused a lot of time on verse 30! Talk about a reminder that God is in control! He will direct our steps always, even if we might be sent in directions we hadn’t planned on going! Blessings to you today, and thank you for YOUR encouraging words!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s tough to hand things over to God and trust him for the outcome but important that we decrease and focus on his glory instead of thinking it’s all about us.

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  8. Gritty … that’s a good adjective to describe writing, Michele. It’s also nerve wracking and even a bit risky, but in the end, all we can do is what God asks us to do and trust him with the outcome. Learning to do this is a lifelong process, wouldn’t you say? Your words here are a blessing to me!

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  9. Lois, such a difficult, dying-to-self journey you’ve been on with your writing. The publishing world is so different now. With the advent of self-publishing, it makes it harder to publish traditionally. Agents don’t take as many new clients to represent, publishing houses don’t take as many books from “new” authors, and at times it’s downright discouraging.

    Like you, I’ve had to learn (and re-learn) that God’s timing and plans are always best. And so, I take one step at a time, leaning hard on Him and trusting that He knows where He’s leading me.

    I love Psalm 138:8. I needed the reminder of its truth today. Thank you so much for sharing so transparently here. Your words encouraged me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “God’s timing and plans are always best.” Yes, Jeanne …exactly that. It occurs to me just now that I have plenty of evidence of this in other areas of my life, so why should it be any different when it comes to writing? Maybe it goes back to wanting to control ALL of it, rather than just doing the work and trusting God with the outcome. (groan!) I appreciate your perspective and the new thoughts it is bringing to my mind! 🙂

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  10. He IS the God of doing the impossible… I pray that your new book become total proof of His glory, Lois. Your words in His hands cannot go wrong 🙂
    I love the encouragement this brought to me as I read it… my heart needed it, today! Thanks Lois, and Bethany!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad the post was timely for you, Christine. I had several other topics I thought I would write for this series, but for some reason, this one wouldn’t let me go! Thank you for YOUR kind encouragement!

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  11. Lois, I can’t even begin to tell you how your words encourage me. Thank you for being willing to hear the Words of God — that certainly were NOT the words you wanted to hear. Writing is such a gritty thing. We pour ourselves out there, and have absolutely no control over the response. I have been ministered to today by your transparency.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

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