I grew up in Minnesota and if you the know the state at all, you know it prides itself as “The State of Hockey.” In Minnesota, hockey is almost a religion and from little on up, kids are introduced to the sport at just about every turn.
I wasn’t much of an athlete growing up and definitely was not a hockey player. But I was a fan and loved to follow some of the sport’s local teams (high school and college). The University of Minnesota-Duluth (near where I grew up) had several championship-level hockey teams. One particular player from UMD who went on to NHL greatness and fame playing on 2 Stanley Cup-winning teams, was Brett Hull. Hull was a known local to the Duluth-area and at the time, spent the off-season near where I lived. The picture of me alongside the Stanley Cup (see above) was after the Dallas Stars clinched the series in 1999 by defeating the Buffalo Sabres. Brett Hull brought the cup back to Duluth during that summer and fans were given the opportunity to have their picture taken alongside it.
During my teenage years, I worked one summer at a local Subway store. During one particular shift at Subway, I had a brush with greatness I’ll never forget as Brett Hull came into the store and ordered a sub. Being the awesome sandwich artist that I was, I gladly made the sandwich all the while being a bit star-struck and tongue-tied. I took Mr. Hull’s money, gave him the sub, and finished the transaction. There was no else in the restaurant and no co-workers who were with me at the time. Unfortunately my encounter with someone famous could not be verified. But trust me…it did happen!
I wonder at times if our encounters with God are on any level as awe-inspiring as the brushes with fame we sometimes have in this life. Sure it’s great to meet a famous athlete, politician, or actor. A part of us feels somehow validated and maybe even knowing we encountered greatness makes us feel a little great.
John the Baptist was one to acknowledge the greatness of Jesus but did not in any way, take credit or try to share in His glory. He always pointed others to Christ and simply told them to behold the Savior:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
I believe Jesus used John’s ministry of preparation because He knew John would not squander it or make it about himself. John prepared the way and then when Jesus came, he got out of the way. He could have seen his chance and his opportunity to piggy-back onto the greatness of Christ. He could have sought a platform for himself along the way. But he did not. He simply allowed his brush with greatness to magnify the Messiah, saying “He must increase and I must decrease.”
How about you today? First of all, are you allowing God’s presence to still wow and amaze you? Does the greatness of God cause you to worship and stand in wonder? Secondly, are you allowing yourself to take on the position of a servant, knowing you get to partner with God but ALL the glory goes to Him and no other?
Those are convicting questions and for me, they hit close to home. As a musician and a creative-type, it can be interesting and challenging to do ministry and not want the accolades when they come. I believe we all can struggle with this and in our work there is a constant temptation to want the praise of men, rather than giving the praise to God.
I encourage you today to strive for brushes with greatness that are truly divine encounters with the Living God. In so doing, you will not be the same as His glory and majesty are put on display.
God bless you richly as you follow after Him.