"Then the Lord asked him, 'What do you have in your hand?' 'A shepherd's staff,' Moses replied. 'Throw it down on the ground,' the Lord told him. So Moses threw it down and it became a snake. Moses was terrified so he turned and ran away." Exodus 5:2-3

 

I remember reading a view of Mark Batterson's on the above Scripture. One I had never heard before, but that spoke deeply into my heart. He said that the staff Moses carried was very much a source of his identity, showing all just who he was; a shepherd. His life was very tied into that identity. When the Lord directed him to throw it down, he was letting go of the way he saw himself, and all that was tied into that. It spoke to me so deeply because for much of my life, my identity, like so many others, has been totally linked to what I do, or who I was. When what we do or who we are is so linked, it can very much turn into a prison cell. Because what we do or who we are can change. They can be taken away from us or lost. When they are, we are left with the sense of having no real identity at all. When we see ourselves as being husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, pastors, or whatever profession or livelihood we have pursued, we are left adrift emotionally, even spiritually, when they are gone. If we are not one or any of those identities anymore, then who are we? What are we?

 

For me, this was a terrible struggle in my life. I still remember the devastation that took place when it seemed to me that I had lost everything; marriage, family, ministry. I wasn't a husband anymore. Not a father either. Certainly not a pastor. If I was not any of these, than what was I? As I've related in past writings, the Father did a wondrous and miraculous work of restoration in my life, bringing me back into a full time pastoral ministry, showing that His gifts and calling are indeed irreversible. Yet for many years I still struggled with other aspects of self identity. Having someone to love and be loved by was still missing. I felt the void, and believe me, I spent many years praying and seeking to have that again. Yet all the while, God was trying to open my eyes to what my identity really was and where it was to be found; in Him. First, and always, our identity is to be found in Him. Not in what we do, or who we are, or what we call ourselves or see ourselves as. It is found in Him. When we discover that true identity, we also find true and real freedom. We need to live in our eternal identity, and not the one(s) we find in this world that is so swiftly passing away.

 

 I at last reached the place of discovering that I had the full, infinite love of the Father, no matter who I was or what I did. Married, single, in or out of ministry, I was His. Real fulfillment and wholeness would never be, could never be, found in something or someone outside of Him. To finally "know" that meant that someone, anyone....even I, could survive the loss of any and all of these passing things, and still be whole and complete in Him. There might be many missing and important elements in my or any life, but He would never be one of them. I would not be marked by a label any longer. None of us need be. The world will always seek to place us under a label; winner, loser, success, failure. He puts only one upon us. One that moves out like circles from a stone thrown into a pond; son, daughter, child of the King. We are His, and no matter what this fading life may bring, that will never change. That is our identity.....All that remains to be asked of any of us today is, have we entered into that identity in full, or at all? If not, wouldn't this be the perfect time for it? Don't be identified by the staff you may be carrying, that might change. It will change. Be identified by the name He has given you, will give you. That can never change.

Blessings,
Pastor O

 

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