I think one of the hardest questions in my life has been who I am. I know all the things that others have said about be. Those things seem to be burned into my brain. I have lived my entire life trying to undo what others have said about me. When I thought I had arrived, I ran to those who had said those things, and hoped that they would tell me I was no longer those things they had said. My ex-wife said that I would never finish my degree. I tell you what I made such a big deal about graduating, but it didn't really matter. I should have known I could have done it all along. I should have been able to find myself and my courage somewhere else.
I have done some pretty rotten things in my life. I still continue to do things that can be just awful. I cuss too much. At times I drink too much. I can be cold and I can be self-absorbed. When I was growing up in church I thought that you had to get everything right to be a "good" Christian. I don't think that anyone ever said that was how you did this faith thing. I think I just looked at the other people in church, and just imagined that they had it all together. I don't think that I am the only one that has ever gotten a measuring stick out to compare myself to other people sitting in the pew alongside them. I think comparing ourselves is a natural thing. No matter what, we have an inner drive to be better and to shine brighter. I have been enrolled in bible school twice. I thought that God was calling me to be a pastor, but at this point I wonder if that was really the voice of God or was I just trying to do what I believed others would admire in me. I will have to get back to you on that one, because at this point I just don't know.
Now I have come to a cross roads. I have counted on my current wife to affirm me as a man and as a person. That has not, in any way, been successful. I sit here in an empty apartment all alone. I have to go back to the drawing board, because the way I have being seeking value in myself has come up empty. I have hit the bankrupt in the wheel of fortune of life. I thought that I would feel valuable if I finished my bachelor's degree. That hasn't worked either. When I moved into my new apartment, I put my diploma on the top shelf in my closet, because it really doesn't matter. It's just a very expensive piece of paper. It doesn't add any lasting value to who I am as a person. I thought if I had a good job, and was able to care for my family that would make me feel valuable. Once again that failed also. I do make decent money. I can afford things for my kids that my parents never could, but I am still miserable. What am I to do?
I should have went to the Author in the first place. Questions of who I am, and why am I here, those are the types of questions that God is dying to answer for me. I guess I kind of always knew the answers. I mean I did go to Bible school. I keep replaying the verse, "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us". I know that at a cerebral level, but I need to take it deeper. I need to sit and soak it in. I believe in the idea of original sin. In the garden, the serpent told Eve that if she would eat of the fruit that she would be "like God" and would know good and evil. This was the first lie. When man disobeyed God he suddenly thought that he was God. He could now make the rules. This began the rebellion. Suddenly, everyone thought that they knew better than God. We could make the rules! We no longer had to rely on the law of God, that I believe is etched into the innermost parts of us from birth. Let me tell you something, none of us have what it takes to be God. There is only one God, and he gets to make the rules.
I was born into this active rebellion. As I grew up I jumped right in and joined the rebellion. I thought I had a better way. By the time I reached high school I was completely convinced that I was just too smart to believe in all this God stuff. I mean really? A being that you can't see? You have to be kidding me. It wasn't till I was a freshman in Bible college that God really got a hold of me. I read books like "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis, and "More Than a Carpenter" by Josh McDowell. I was suddenly faced with overwhelming evidence that there really was something to all this God stuff. When I was agnostic I thought I was too smart to believe in God, now I came to realize it would be stupid to not acknowledge the reality of God.
Once I had established that their was a God, then the second question I had to answer was what type of God was he. I went back to the verse about Christ dying for us when we were still sinners. I told you before that we are in the midst of a great civil war. Man from the very beginning has been trying to cast off the yoke of God. Psalm 2;3 says, "Let us break their chains", they cry "and free ourselves from slavery to God." I was on the front lines. I was an enemy combatant. I had taken up arms against a God, who had not only created me, but who loved me. In the midst of all that God still loved me. He never gave up on me. He chose me from the beginnings. Even in the midst of the garden. When Adam would walk with God in the cool of the day, he had already set the wheels in motion. He already knew that man would be deceived, and rebel against him. Take it another step further. He knew me. He knew all of the rotten things I would do, and yet he still chose me.
One of the things that we sometimes get hung up on is that he chose us because of something that we can bring to the table. Well that just isn't the case at all. He doesn't want all that. We can't bring anything to him. I mean he is God right. It is all his anyway right? C.S. Lewis talks about this very thing, he says that to talk about giving ourselves to God is sort of like a father who gives his son six pence to buy him a gift. The son can go out and buy the nicest gift imaginable, and in the end the father is "sixpence none the richer".
Well if it isn't what I am bringing then what would God want from me? Simply because he loves me. He doesn't come to get anything. He has come to give everything. When I was in active rebellion against God, he came to me. He offered me a righteousness that I hadn't earned. He offered to cover my faults, and to love me in spite of my weaknesses. What God wants is to return us to that state of Eden. He wanted me to walk in the cool of the day with him. He wanted me to come to him, and delight in him. It is very hard to do. To approach a holy God empty-handed is something that is extremely difficult. We always seem to want to come to him. "Look God, I memorized these Bible verses." "Look I quit drinking or smoking!" He has never wanted any of that surface stuff. He wants our hearts. He wants us to face our own unworthiness and to gladly embrace his love for us.
This brings me full circle. I come back to the question I started with. Who am I anyway? Protestant like to say, "I am a sinner saved by grace". I think this is an understatement. I really think that we are really missing something when that is the best we can do. I am a sinner saved by grace, but I am so much more. I have a huge value to a God who loves me. Before there was time he preordained that his only Son should die for me. Jesus, who was and will always be God himself, became a man. He walked like a man. He hurt like a man. He was tempted like a man. Then he laid down his life for me. It wasn't the nails that held him to the cross. It was the deep all-consuming love that he had for me that held him on that cross. I am so much more than a sinner saved by grace. I am a precious creation. So valuable that Christ died for me. How could I possibly cower and fear what other men think of me. The judgement has already been made. I am infinitely valuable. Now, the trick is to go out there and live my life in light of that.
Once again if you like what you have read please share it with your friends.