In my last post, we ended by contemplating some probing questions about our identity. Soul-searching inquiries like: Who Am I and Where do I fit into God’s cosmic plan? We also observed how often the enigma of who we are seems to slide in and out of focus, like a child’s cardboard kaleidoscope. Not exactly the things you want to reflect on before a good night’s sleep! As an attempt to find satisfactory answers, I made a list in my yellow linen notebook and came up with some indisputable attributes: I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, writer, naturalist etc. Afterwards, I listed qualities that decidedly do not belong to me: I am not artistic (with respect to drawing, watercolors etc.), athletic or a amazing chef with friends banging down the door for a dinner invitation. And that’s okay. But the haunting questions hang in the air…taunting me, tempting me, trying me… In the end, I surmised that perhaps I have indeed been pondering the wrong question altogether. I mean, there are over 7 billion human beings on the planet…how can we all fit into 8 or 9 neat categories? God made each of us unique, designed to fill a role only we can fill. And so while personality quizzes can be useful, they lack something essential that only our Creator has…a blueprint to who we are.
So if my question was not apropos–what should the question be? After much earnest investigation, I have determined that maybe what we should be asking ourselves is not how well we know ourselves but rather, How well do we know Him? Do we know about Him or have we actually “tasted and seen” ? Have we felt Him in the fire with us? What if, in fact, the key to our self-identity–our purpose in life– lies less in knowing the nitty-gritty details about ourselves and more in knowing Him and striving to emulate Him? Isn’t the point of life to be transformed into His likeness? While I fully agree that it is helpful to know our strengths and weaknesses, as someone who has wrestled a good bit with depression, I also know the dangers of being too introspective. If we focus too much on ourselves, our world gets smaller and we lose sight of what really matters.
If I am a child of God–even if that is the only unchanging thing I know about myself, then shouldn’t the focus shift to Him and how I can best serve Him? It will require serious time invested in a relationship with God himself–spending time hearing His voice, yielding to His direction, striving for unfaltering obedience. There aren’t any shortcuts. But honestly, don’t I really need to know about Him and His qualities so that I can share my Hope with the world? How can I share Someone I barely know? If I am familiar, firsthand, with the faithfulness of my Father as well as fastidiously endeavoring to discern His loving voice…won’t I know who I am as a natural outcome?
As I ponder, as I tweak my questions, as I twist my priorities back to what is truly eternal, the Kaleidoscope’s focus, almost imperceptibly, slowly shifts into amazingly beautiful “designs”; things become clearer…brilliant, diverse colors sliding into perfect alignment. A dense fog begins to lift: I am who He created me to be. I am here to glorify Him and it may look like cleaning toilets one month and writing a manuscript the next. If all that God requires is for me to seek Justice, love Mercy and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8), I might have to slide out of my comfort zone regularly so that I am reminded it’s not about my ability or traits but about my willingness to be obedient. Now it’s important to realize that obedience to God does NOT mean saying yes to every request made of my limited time and resources. This is where discerning the voice of God comes into play which is the next process I am working one. I am ever hopeful that when this is the kind of relationship I have with Abba, striving will cease and I will be peacefully resting in His loving arms. The focus will be where it should have been all along. Make no mistake about it, the results of my meager human efforts will never be perfect this side of heaven, but pleasing to God simply because of my desire to please Him.
A life poured out for Him. Keeping my eye on the prize of His presence. Every day.