Last month we began to tackle this sticky question of identity. Click here to read last month’s post. This month we’ll be delving into the blessings of being who and what God intended us to be as opposed to the difficulties associated with attempting to be someone and something we are not.
Since spring has been reluctant to commit this year, the trees and flowers around my home have been bitten by frost more than once. I fear the peaches will not produce as their flowers set on before the apples and likely caught the worst of the cold last week.
As of this writing, the apples are in full bloom, oak leaves are unfurling from odd stringy strands to proper lobed specimens, the daffodils’ triumphant blast of yellow has been replaced by the rosy pink of tulips and the fragrant purple of lilac.
Each of these living things is true to its God-given identity. Oaks never try to produce blossoms, nor do daffodils bloom pink. Modern man has learned to alter the genetic codes of many plants, creating hybrids that may differ in appearance or performance to the originals of their species. Man has also yearned to modify humankind and has succeeded in many cases. I’m not here to debate the morality of science, nor to downplay the good it has done.
What I am writing this post to say is that whenever humans attempt to do that which is not consistent with God’s plan, catastrophic events occur and painful lessons must be learned. Veering from God’s path results in delays in stepping into one’s maturity and learning to become what was meant to bring us joy and peace.
Let’s start with God’s command for humanity to spread to the ends of the earth and multiply, taking charge of the animals and plants, the land and waters in every corner of the world. (Genesis 9:7) Instead, mankind gathered on a plain near one another. Held back by fear or lack of faith, I cannot say. Or, perhaps it was the desire for comfort and community. Whatever the case, instead of taking the Almighty God to the world, they set about bringing God to themselves.
They desired the communion they’d lost at Eden, but tried to force it by building a tower to the heavens. When God saw what they were doing, he intervened confusing their languages and scattering them to the places he’d wanted them to go on their own. (Genesis 11)
Those whose faith convinces them to follow God’s winding path to completion find themselves entering the promised land, like Joshua, or becoming a queen like Esther, or in the family tree of Jesus, like Rahab and Ruth. Great sorrow is often transformed into great joy and redemption. Even the thief, who at the final moment rejected his rejection of God’s path for his life, was redeemed in the end and experienced the joy and promise of heaven.
When we persist in pulling out from under the sheltering wings of our Lord and forging our own identities separate from Him, we find ourselves immersed in storms and traveling rocky, midnight-dark paths. When we relent and return to abiding in his will, the winds abate and a safe harbor complete with a brilliant lighthouse appears through the breaking clouds. The relief we feel when we set foot on those shores may cause us to weep. But, Jesus will reach out his hand and raise us up, dry our tears, and embrace us as the prodigal returned.
So, my advice (and I’m not saying this is easy to do) is to be like the oak and the daffodils and unfurl with the leaves and colors you were meant to display once you find out who and what you are. Don’t be afraid to step into the self your Creator placed in your heart no matter how many others wish to graft you into their vision for you or alter your perception of that self.
There’s a pattern at your core, though the ripping away of false selves and sifting or refining may be painful. Think Eustace’s dragon scales in C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the process of making a proper sword where the metal is melted, refined, shaped, and reformed. If you hold in your heart the desire to be God’s imager and to trust in His process, you will discover your true identity.
We are all His: His children, His subjects, His creation. Only by remaining faithful and trusting in the One who knows us best can we emerge from our trials in full possession of the identity He gave us when he knit us in our mothers’ wombs.
My prayer for all who read this is that you will persist in the process and never lose heart or sight of becoming the true you. The best you whether that be oak or pine, apple or lilac. Or perhaps daffodil, tulip, or rose. No matter what we are, we each have a distinct place within God’s habitat and serve a unique purpose based on our unique God-given identities.
Great series Rebecca!!! Really enjoyed it!!!
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Thank you, Wes!
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