Israelite

Freedom in Identity

Who am I?

Photo by Demi Brooke, sourced from everystockphoto.com under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Photo by Demi Brooke, sourced from everystockphoto.com under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

It’s something we’re supposed to figure out in our twenties, but in my case it keeps changing.

This time last year I was a journalist, I had just finished my third trip overseas and I was surrounded by terrific friends that I’d grown up with. I was also about to embark on a new adventure in a larger town. Pretty exciting.

Fast forward twelve months. Some awesome things have happened; I’ve written a book, started this blog, worked in a completely new job, met different people and settled into my new home.

But at the same time, at the moment it looks like my journalism career could be over. My book is still a long way from being published, and this is a fairly new blog so I don’t have thousands of readers hanging off my every word. And tonight (New Year’s Eve) all my friends are busy or out of town. So I’m just planning to pick up some of my favourite food on the way home and spend the night on the couch with two of my favourite men, Hamish and Andy. (To my international readers, they are Australian comedians – and some of the funniest guys ever.)

Suddenly I don’t sound quite so awesome.

Look ahead another twelve months. Things could go either way. I could land a journo job, get a publishing contract, and have a full social calendar. Or I could not.

But the thing is… none of these circumstances are in my control.

So why should they affect my identity? Short answer: they shouldn’t.

It’s something I’ve known for a long time, but every now and then I need to remind myself. My identity is in God. I belong to Him. Nothing more, nothing less. I can’t get depressed or puffed up about my position in life, because I know that it can all change. And there’s freedom in that.

If my identity isn’t found in my career, writing or friends, then I’m not afraid to change jobs, move towns, and start working from the bottom up on my writing. I’m not restricted.

So before I look ahead to 2014 and completely freak out that I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m not where I thought I would be, I can stop and take a breath. It’s okay. I’m valuable to God either way.

The Israelites didn’t know what would happen when they left Egypt, and they had several pretty big freak-outs. But God always came through. They only ever came unstuck when they refused to trust Him.

So I now have a reminder stuck up on the wall next to my bed. It’s in the form of a question.

“What’s the point of trust and faith if I never use it?”

Can We Know God?

This is an abbreviated version of the article by Johnathan Martin on http://www.relevantmagazine.com.

There is no conspiracy to keep obstacles between us and God.

When the mystery of God first struck the ground, crackling with the electricity of a storm on Mount Sinai, it was the people who said, “Don’t let Him speak to us directly or we will die.”

We are often the ones inserting ourselves in that space.We fill the space between us with everything we can get our hands on because, deep down, we know there is something terrible about staring into the mystery for ourselves and finding ourselves fully seen and fully known in return.

Even if we find a gaze of love staring back at us, we are uncomfortable with the wildness in that gaze. To encounter God is to encounter lack of control, to come to terms with our own ultimate powerlessness.

To encounter God is to discover both how small we are and how beloved we are, and we are not prepared either to be so insignificant or so desperately loved.

There is something tender about the presence of God and the voice of God, a tenderness that never fails to break our hearts. The the heartbreak of a relationship with God is not sentimental in the least—it is the sheer goodness of God, the tenderness of His heart that relentlessly shatters our own.

We have been presumptuous to think we know what God might be saying or what He wants in a given situation, smug in our judgments. And then comes the real voice of God, which always turns out to be more tender, more gentle, more loving than what we could have imagined. That unfathomable mercy that, more than any of the extraordinary things we might say about God, ultimately makes Him the most unlike us.

However broken we might feel or be, it takes a certain courage to stare into the whirlwind—to fix our gaze into the storm that knows us—without flinching, without covering ourselves, without looking away.

And when we stay there long enough, a figure emerges from the storm. Like the Israelites when God appeared on Sinai, we are tempted to cower in terror, to find someone to stand between us and Him.

And again comes the voice, as familiar on this new mountain as it was in the midst of the storm—except this time not just a voice, but a hand that reaches out to touch us. “Get up, and do not be afraid.” The same terror, the same glory, but with a tender touch and a voice that has always been familiar—telling us we have no reason to fear. From out of the whirlwind, from out of the storm, Jesus comes walking.