(Republished with permission from Press Service International, for Christian Today Australia )
Culture, heritage, family, life experience. There are so many things that contribute to how we see ourselves and our place in the world. My husband and I recently discussed how our childhood experiences have affected our perception of self and of the world. It was interesting to look back and acknowledge the ongoing influence of certain people and situations in our lives. The most incredible revelation however, was the significance of God breaking through all our barriers to show that His indiscriminate love was the true basis of our identity and purpose.
. . .
A story of discovery
I often marvel at the things my husband has lived through, and am inspired by the testimonies created through those times of hardship. Ultimately, hubby saw brokenness. There were broken societies where a particular race might be seen inferior in one country, but superior in another; broken families with hurting relationships; and broken people simply feeling the burden of life’s complexities, injustices and judgements.
Through all of this, he saw one unchanging, stable source of hope – God. God the Father did not value him differently if he moved from this country to that one. His citizenship in Christ had no boundaries on earth. God the Father was perfect in love, and this love was more than enough to cover every offence, hurt and pain inflicted by anyone or anything else. With such an understanding of God’s love, it is no wonder I see my husband forgive so easily!
In my current season of busyness as a mother, I find my faith challenged and the source of my identity tested. Hubby’s testimony reminds me of where I can be truly grounded, and the wonderfully penned Psalm 139 also reminds us of how God made us with purpose and intent.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
(Psalm chapter 139, verses 13-14)
. . .
Who am I?
We might be tempted to answer this question in different ways depending on circumstance. For example, I could describe myself in the following ways: I am a wife and a mother, I work as a doctor, I love the creative arts, and I hope that I am able to bless people with kindness and generosity. Personality, passions, and the various roles we play in our relationships are all part of our identity, but there is a deeper level of really knowing where our worth comes from.
Hillsong Worship’s “Who You Say I Am”, has the following chorus:
“Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God, yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God, yes I am”
That deeper level of worth, purpose and confidence is something I find only in my Creator God. He made me who I am, loves and accepts me completely. God sets me free from the expectations of the world. Knowing that I will always be loved and accepted by God gives me a deeply rooted, and unshakeable hope in life even when things are difficult.
. . .
Where am I going?
To be honest, I don’t always know. However, I do know it is possible to trust God’s leading wherever I am in life. In our Bible Study Fellowship group, we have been going through the stories of Jacob and Joseph. They knew the promise of God to establish Israel as a great nation in their own land, but they did not see the end product. Both Jacob and Joseph ended their lives in Egypt, but gave instructions for their bones to be moved to the land of promise. They were influential and served God faithfully where they were, but they also remembered and trusted that God would fulfill His promise to them in His time.
In the same way, we have promises from God that are our hope and strength throughout life; the promise of eternal life with Him, and a day when all suffering and pain will cease. However, we also live in the present day with the doubts, challenges, joys and changes that this brings.
Philippians chapter 1, verse 27 gives this instruction:
“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.” (Philippians chapter 1, verse 27)
Being a citizen of heaven means we bring the life of the gospel to people, places and situations around us, knowing that one day we will all stand before God’s eternal throne.
. . .
A final encouragement
It is interesting to think about the many things that influence our identity and perception of the world, but important to remember where our true foundation lies. As we experience more of life, let us also grow more in our knowledge and experience of God’s love because this is the true and eternal basis of our identity.
“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians chapter 3, verse 5)