This past summer was quite interesting with news and commentary swirling around “Pride Month” denoting a time to celebrate acceptance and understanding. The news was filled with issues highlighting the ever-changing landscape of self-identification.
So, it seems that identifying yourself has become quite an important mission.
What I find compelling is that we tend to create our identities based on our heritage, work, residence, education, social alliances, relationships, and now sexual orientation.
We paint our portrait that speaks only to the surface….the superficial.
For instance, if I asked you to tell me something about yourself, you would probably respond by telling me what you do for a living, whether you are married, have kids, what school you attended, what sorority or fraternity you pledged, what branch of the military you served, what neighborhood you reside, what church you attend, or maybe one of your hobbies or passions.
Our default is to define our identity by what the world says and the value it affixes and, in the process, we limit ourselves.
I realized this truth this summer when a friend called one morning and posed a challenging question. She began by saying that in her devotion time that morning, the Lord highlighted a specific story and question that He wanted her to share with me.
Boy, I am glad that she did and thus, I’m going to share it with you….
The story comes from the Book of John:1-19-23, where we see the testimony of John the Baptist:
The Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask John who he was. John gave witness to them. He did not try to hide the truth. He spoke to them openly. He said, “I am not the Christ.”
They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet we’ve been expecting?” they asked.
“No,” he answered.
They asked one last time, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John replied, using the words of Isaiah the prophet. John said, “I’m the messenger who is calling out in the desert, ‘Make the way for the Lord straight.’ ”
Pharisees were dispatched to confront John the Baptist and question his identity. They came demanding an answer and John offered an immediate reply- one that shows an identity that is tied directly to a calling.
Without a blush of hesitation, John confidently declares who he is and his destiny. Called to be a voice heralding the coming of the Messiah!
He knows exactly who he is and who he is not!
As I’m marveling over his confidence, my friend stops me in my tracks with this question:
“Noelle, the Lord wants to know- "Who do you say you are? Do you know the calling and purpose I have for you? Are you ready and willing to believe it and declare it?"
It was like she punched me in the gut. I wasn’t prepared to answer because I knew intuitively that the superficial, default response would not suffice. This was a much deeper question that deserved a much deeper response and somehow would have eternal consequences.
I respond with a side-stepping reply…. “That was deep, really deep. I’m going to have to give that some thought.”
Since that morning, I’ve been in serious self-exploration and awareness territory. An expedition into the discovery of what God has to say about me and my identity. Can I just tell you; He has been talking and what He has to say has absolutely nothing to do with what the world claims as identity?
No, our everlasting identity comes down to this…. accepting that we were created by a loving God to have a relationship with Him and to fulfill His desires for our lives. To discover our purpose that He intended before He ever placed us in our mother’s womb!
You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense.- Rick Warren
When you know WHO YOU ARE and to WHOM YOU BELONG – all limits are removed… all worldly labels dissolve and what is left is divine purpose and freedom.
Life makes sense.
Who do you say you are? Better yet.... What does God have to say about you?