WHO AM I?

BY:  JAN A. ANTONSSON

MAY 7, 2016

Who-am-I

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

 “For as the thoughts of his heart are, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7, BBE)

Were you ever in a group where you thought uneasily, “These people have no idea who I am or what I believe?”  That doesn’t mean you are a serial killer or a thief who has to hide your identity to keep from being arrested.  It might mean that you are in a group of eager political activists where you support their opposition, so you keep your mouth shut.  Or it could be that you are in church sitting under teaching that drives you nuts, one in which you had sought the Lord’s counsel and He delivered you from it.

Here’s a personal example:  When my first marriage was unraveling with no way to cope and no clue what to do, I was at a Wednesday night meeting, standing at the back of the auditorium so I could hear what was said, but be close enough to check on my young daughter who was very upset about something that evening.

The elder who was leading the service was deep into Psychological pondering (Think Lucy with her sign, “Psychiatric help, 5 cents”).  He and his wife had legendary problems which they freely and frequently aired.  He had shared a problem which was tearing at their hearts and minds, and then said, “If any of you are having marital problems, please come down front and we’ll all pray together for God’s help.”

I was dying inside from deep emotional wounds and the sure knowledge that there was no help for me, but because of my upbringing, and or my pride, not sure which, there was no way I could go down front and expose myself to ridicule or censure or conclusions about my lack of spirituality.  I stood back behind the glass separating the children from the congregation, tears streaming down my face, and like a penniless child with her face pressed up against the window of a candy store, I agonized about my situation.

Christians in general have a tendency to hide their true feelings and/or their real selves from their fellows, assuming they even know what those are, for fear of censure, judgment, and being thought unworthy.  It has struck me on occasion over the years that most of us wear masks in public, whether it be church or secular groups, because we don’t want anyone to know who we are or how we feel.   

What brought this to mind was a group setting I was in last week, in which the woman sitting next to me, confided, that now that her husband has passed, she needs to find out who she is.  I must have looked puzzled at that, because she explained, “When we’re married, we usually just go along with what our husband wants to do, without thinking about it very much, because that’s what wives do.  Now that he’s not here, I need to find out who I am.”  She gave me her idea of how to begin that, which isn’t relevant here, but the conversation has stuck with me.

The question she asked is normal for young people and all of us probably pondered the answer early in life, but this woman is a bit older than I am, and the thought that she had gotten to this age without knowing herself was and is startling.

In his book on child rearing, Dr. Spock said something to the effect, that if you are happy with the way you were reared, you’ll bring up your own children that way and not give it another thought, but if you were not happy, then you’ll try to find another path and you probably will make worse mistakes than the ones you think your parents made.  I fall into the latter category, but perhaps my friend does not.

In any event, it seems to me that when our eyes are opened to see His handiwork, God is in the business of revealing Himself to us, and in the process, He shows us who we are.  It’s not always a pretty picture, not something we want to share with the world, but what has been true for me, is that when He shows me a part of myself that is not loving or Christ like, He doesn’t do that to shame me or guilt me into trying harder to be better.  He shows me my flaws, my psychological warts and zits because He is going to deliver me from them.

Therefore, it may be an uncomfortable process, but it’s also an exciting one, because I know I’ll come out of it on the other side, better for having been through it.  Good Counselors do the same thing and I’ve had some excellent ones in my life, but the very best counselor of all is Christ Himself, for after all, that is one of His names:  “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, NIV)  His name is Emanuel, God with us, and that means that we couldn’t wear a mask with Him if we wanted to, because He lives within us.  He called us from our mother’s womb; He knows our name.

Moses is my favorite Old Testament Prophet, because He walked and talked with God.  In Exodus, Chapters 32-33, there is a gripping story about God’s wrath against the Israelites on the occasion when they asked Aaron to build a golden calf while Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving God’s Commandments for them. When Moses came down the mountain, the people were running amok, worshiping the calf, and who knows what else?

About three thousand of them died by the sword that day.  In fact, God had told Moses that He would destroy them all and make a nation out of Moses’ heirs.  In a bold, some would say dangerously audacious move, Moses in effect told God, “If you destroy these people, what will the neighbors think?  That you were able to bring them out of Egypt, but not powerful enough to deliver them into the land which You had promised them?”  “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. (Exodus 32:11-14, RSV)

Moses besought the Lord not to send him into the Promised Land without the Presence of God, “And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name. (Exodus 33:17, RSV)

What a thrilling statement that God knew Moses by name, and dear friends, He knows us by name as well for He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the World (See Isaiah 49:1; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 1:4).  As a child I never understood how the children of Israel could have been so stupid as to make a golden calf and do many other things which brought God’s wrath down upon them.  After Jesus baptized me in His Spirit, I finally understood.  Moses had the Spirit of God to help Him but the other descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, did not.  

The Spirit revealed to me what countless self-help books could not.  Who I am is a child of God, for our Father has called us to be His children, to bear His name unto the world, to rest in His bosom, to receive His unconditional love and compassion and His endless grace and mercy, in every situation we find ourselves in.

 

Father, you are our Counselor, the Lover of our Souls, the Champion who rides in on a White Horse to save us from ourselves.  You give of Yourself freely to us by the Spirit who dwells within us, and for this, there are no words adequate enough to thank You and praise You.  You know who we are and where You are taking us.  We add our voices to those of all the Saints who surround Your throne, on this side of the veil and the other side, “and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”  To God be the glory, world without end.  Amen.

 

WHO AM I? [Jan A. Antonsson] 05-07-16          2

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