Wed, Apr 30th - 1:20PM
True Identity Theft
We hear a lot about Identity Theft these days, in fact, the topic ranks high on the growing list of things we are told to be afraid of. (Isn’t it sad that in spite of the fact Jesus usually said, “Fear not..”, we seem to be looking for more of it?).
From birth, we are indoctrinated with our “identity”. Our parents paint a picture of ourselves that we usually trustingly accept. Our peers spend decades reinforcing our self image, and we usually accept their assessments. I was always my mother’s “bad boy” – said lovingly, but with some measure of regret, and even after 6 decades I struggled with the implications of that label.
To make it even more difficult, I took that picture of my character, imposed on me since birth, and used it to predict my capabilities. My fences became tall and well constructed, and they wrapped around any abilities I thought I had, stifling any abilities outside the fences. That sure made it easy for me to envy other’s talents while thinking I had very few.
And then along came Jesus, proclaiming the Word of God, which usually is about 180˚ backwards from how I usually think. After all the negative reinforcement I had given myself and accepted from others over the course of my life, having any kind of faith in the Word became an uphill battle. Jesus asked a tough, haunting question, “Will I find faith on the earth when I return?” Good question! I sincerely hope He does, and I hope He finds it in me, but if I had continued to accept my self imposed limitations it would have been iffy.
When I retired, I spent some time in depression, and that surprised me a lot. I learned that I had assumed an identity based on my career, and I felt lost without it. I had been told that many men tended to define their personalities with their careers, but it came as a shock to find myself in that group. My identity had been stolen, and an occupation had replaced it!
Recently I’ve looked at my real identity and here’s what I’ve learned: I AM A CHILD OF GOD, through His grace, and WHAT I DO in life doesn’t change or alter it. This subtle, but important change in perspective might be difficult to grasp at first, due to old habits of thought, but as long as I trust God for it, the Holy Spirit should be free to do His work.
I can be thankful to God that along with my destination, my identity is secure.
Through Jesus Christ, so can you.
Mon, Apr 28th - 1:17PM
Balm for the Late Bloomers
It has taken me most of my life to realize that while I am unique, I am unique like a lot of other people. This has been quite a revelation, and is actually very comforting, because I spent most of my life feeling different, and consequently left out.
These feelings first surfaced in elementary school, when I would usually be the only student in the classroom dumb enough to admit I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. Sounds silly, unless you were like me. Everyone else in class seemed to have a focus, a goal, while I felt continually segregated from my peers. Of course, very few of my classmates probably ever lived their elementary school goals, but for me, the damage occurred early and stigmatized me - to myself.
The parameters of “what I was” became set early on, and remained in place year after year. Changing circumstances and the onset of “maturity” didn’t have any effect on the picture I had of myself. College was particularly odious, because while I was told the importance of completing it, I could only aim at the general and relatively non-specific degree of Business Administration. It even got worse when I ran out of business courses and needed to change my major to economics, in order to get the hours I needed to graduate. I hated economics as a course of study, and I’m not at all fond of it today.
Somehow, I thought that when I got out of the U.S. Army after college, a degree-related job would appear that would, at least financially, validate my college career. Sadly, in 1970 the job market was full of men in my circumstances, and out of economic necessity, I went back into my pre-army job of roofing. And this was pre-conveyor belt roofing, done the old-fashioned way – not much of a healthy future on the horizon for me.
Becoming a Christian shortly after my stint in the army, I bounced from one ditch to another across the narrow way, ending up in Colorado four years ago in desperate need of personal revival. God has been faithful to provide it, and has become the only real focus I’ve ever had. That would have been a fine ending to the story except for the zeal of my church in continually addressing the issue of incorporation. By incorporation, I mean the incorporating into one’s daily life the principles Jesus taught; the actual living of one’s life with Jesus as the real center, rather than the CEO of the Pie In The Sky Insurance Company.
One of the priorities of the church I attend is Christian service. Now, I always understood that true Christian service should spring from an underlying foundation of love for Christ, not the other way around, as the Salvation By Works crowd would emphasize, but the old problem reared up again with a vengeance when I realized the overall apathy I had towards most of the proposed service projects – all in all, what was I good for? Specifically - what was my Calling? And once again, the old problem with worthlessness began to demand attention. Much prayer followed, and I learned a lot about prayer and had some good times while praying, but the problem was always festering in the back of my brain – what was I good for? What if I spent my entire life (much of it spent already) and never accomplished anything for God? The battle became a daily struggle and I wasn’t winning. What was my “Calling”? Shouldn’t I know by now? What was wrong with me that I didn’t know? Etc…..
Then yesterday in church, while thinking about other things entirely, God spoke to my heart in His quiet, but unmistakable voice. He simply said, “You can love me”. And with that simple sentence He changed everything.
Suddenly I realized that I was taking my questions out of order – at least out of order for me, and people like me. So here’s how I break it down: while I don’t possess the plethora of talents so many others have in my church (we haven’t needed an ex-gunfighter yet, and hopefully won’t), I can try to love God every day. And that’s my Calling for the time being – love Him better than He’s ever been loved. That’s my one goal at this time, and if I can try to accomplish that every day, His plan for me will unfold without delay…….right on time for a late bloomer.
I’m right on time for me, and if you’ve been wandering around in the gray Christian fog with other late bloomers like I’ve always done, take heart – just make it simple and ask the first questions, first.
Take care of simply loving God, and you’ll be right on time too!