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March 26, 2015

Discovering Your Real Identity

There lives in each of us a hero awaiting the call to action. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Ever wonder why you matter to God? In one of his poems that we know as the Psalms, David reveals that he had the same question. “When I look up into the night skies and see the work of Your fingers – the moon and the stars You have made – I cannot understand how You can bother with mere puny man, to pay any attention to him!  And yet You have made him only a little lower than the angels.” (Psalm 8:3-5, TLB). Here’s a very important person of his time, a man who God selected from obscurity and anointed as the king of Israel, wondering why God made him. Basically, David said, God, when I look at all that You’ve created, I feel like just a speck of dust. Who am I and what is my place, what is my location, my niche, my position in the grand plan of life? Who have You created me to be?”

The answer to David’s question is the same as God’s response to us. God repeatedly and emphatically tells us, “You mean so much to Me. I have a grand purpose for your life. I had a specific reason for creating you exactly as I did.” He knows us intimately and doesn’t lose us in the crowd, doesn’t forget us, or let us go, even when we may feel otherwise.

So, how do we discover who we were meant to be? Whether you’re seriously asking this question for the first time or have been pondering it for many years, the starting point is the same. First, you have to look up to the Source of your creation if you’re truly going to comprehend who you are and what you were created to do.

Genesis tells us we were created in God’s image, so it makes sense to look at His character in order to understand ours. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen.” (1:20). Paul makes the correlation between the creation and the Creator; when he looks around, he finds proof that there’s a God.

When you look at the complexities of creation here on this earth, it’s evident that Someone is behind it all, an Intelligent Designer who created every bit of it. The more I learn about creation – whether it’s the life cycle of a moth or the way my brain works – the more convinced I am that there is a Creator. If there’s no Creator, then we’re just here by accident, an arbitrary occurrence of nature. If we’re on earth by random chance, then how can there be purpose in life? There would be no need to go any further in our journey to understand our identity and purpose on this earth because, if there’s no Creator, then there is no greater meaning, no larger purpose. We’re just here to enjoy all we can while we can.  So live it up, have fun, don’t worry, or look for meaning in your life because it doesn’t exist.  If there’s no Creator, we’re basically just a curious, self-aware kind of animal.

But the good news is that, because we see intentional fingerprints all over creation, there must be a Master Designer. The proof is right before our eyes. It’s like one of those three-dimensional drawings where you stare at the design a certain way until the hidden picture emerges. Some people can see the three dimensions instantly, and others of us struggle no matter how long we stare and squint.

When I look at creation, I see a Creator, and I also see what kind of Creator He is. I see His personality, His power, and His playfulness. I see how much He loves uniqueness and variety. If you don’t believe that God loves variety, just go to the nearest mall, sit on one of the benches, and watch the wonderfully diverse people walking by. We are the result of an amazing imagination unlike any other.

So, if we’re His handiwork, created in His image, then why do we struggle so much to know who we are, to know our real worth? In the Disney classic The Lion King, once we move past all the circle-of-life stuff, the answer is illustrated powerfully. You’ll recall the story of the young lion, Simba, heir to the kingdom, who’s falsely blamed for the death of his dad, Mufasa. Simba runs off in guilt and fear and gives up on his dream of becoming king until one day out in the wild, Mufasa appears to him in a vision and says, “Simba, you have forgotten me.”  And Simba says, “But, Dad, how could I ever have forgotten you?” His father replies, “You have forgotten who you are, and therefore you have forgotten me. Remember who you are. You are my child, the one true king.”

I love the scene because it reinforces such an essential truth about who we are.  God says to you and me today, “Remember who you are. You are My child. You are a child of the King.” Too many people today have forgotten their Creator, so they have completely missed out on the purpose and meaning of life. They’re not really living; they’re just existing. They don’t know their place in life because they have forgotten whose they are and, therefore, they have forgotten who they are.

Many times, they’ve had help in forgetting, in losing sight of their true identity.  Like an identity thief, the enemy of our souls wants to steal our awareness of who we really are. While God’s purpose is to bring life to the fullest, Satan has a plan for you to settle for so much less than what you were made for. The thief’s plan is to steal, kill, and destroy. He knows, if he can steal your identity, he will destroy your dreams and your purpose in life. Satan comes to us and whispers, “You’re not valuable. God can never use you. In fact, God is ashamed of you because you’ve blown it. And blown it again and again and again. You’re not worth much anymore. God has put you on the shelf because you’ve failed to live up to what He hoped for you. You’re not talented enough. God uses other people, but He doesn’t use you. God can’t use you – you’re not spiritual enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not committed enough, you’re not strong enough.” Any of these lies sound familiar?

Our enemy tries to undermine our confidence in who we’re made to be. But, God constantly says to us, “Remember whose you are. You are My child. You’re a child of the King. That’s your true identity. You’re forgiven! You’re righteous in Me. You are so valuable to Me. You are worth so much to Me that I came to this earth, and I died for you. That’s how valuable you are. You’re worth dying for. I love you that much.”

The truth is God has gifted each of us uniquely, and no one has all the talent, no matter how it might appear. We’re to focus on what we’re good at and let go of what we’re not good at. I am not a good singer – just ask anyone who knows me! I could spend all my time taking voice lessons and auditioning for American Idol, but I would only go from bad to lousy. Instead, I’ve focused on the key areas in which God has gifted me, and I’ve tried to develop them. I’m always working at being a better writer and communicator. It’s an insult to God when we focus on the gifts and passions we don’t have and try to develop only our weak areas. Our greatest potential lies in the areas of our greatest strengths.

How do we begin to know who we are in life? No matter the stage we’re in – student, young adult, single, married, new parents, empty nesters, seniors – we can all learn more about who God made us to be by focusing on Him. As we develop a closer relationship with God, we become more like Him, thwarting our enemy’s attempts to steal our identity.

Personal Challenge:

  1. What are you most passionate about? What do you enjoy doing more than anything else?
  2. Make a list of your strengths – everything you can think of that you are gifted at. Be specific. How much time do you devote to using or improving that gift?