“Every single story,” the teacher said, “every story that has ever been written or is yet to be penned. From Shakespeare to Steinbeck, Dickens to King, travelling from African literature to American fiction, with settings in British colonies to the sea in China. All genres, all tales of romance and horror, revenge and justice, forgiveness and betrayals.
“They all look to answer three words. Who am I?”
A line in a movie a year back, expanded upon. Essentially, the greatest question we seek answer to isn’t why we behave the way we do. It isn’t conflicts and resolutions. The most important probe in the universe is unrelated to politics, sports, religion, race, and all other lines of divide.
It is simply: Who am I? Who are you?
And as I sat to write, I thought – how would I answer this question. Now, giving a tag to our identity is a stroll along the beach. In fact, from the day we take the first breath, we have an identity.
The nurse at the hospital says, “You have a handsome boy.”
The joyous father or privileged foster parent says, “He shall be called John.”
A month later, upon stumbling into the toddler’s cot, a nosy neighbor remarks, “He looks so much like his father.”
Half a decade after, the class teacher gapes at the boy’s performance, saying, “The most brilliant six year old I’ve ever taught. A very good student.”
In church, he’s called Christian because his parents are parishioners for fifteen years.
When the band assembles to sound the national anthem, John becomes a Nigerian, or whatever country he was birthed in.
The script is never ending. Freshman. Valedictorian. Banker. Fortune 500 CEO. Husband. Happy father. Respected man in the community. Wonderful role model to teenagers. Joyous grandfather…
And perhaps the boy veers into politics or sports or entertainment, there’s never a shortage. Bestseller. Award-winning artiste. Collaborator. Most expensive player. Record-breaker.
Titles. They begin to define who we are. Am I saying these things aren’t good? Perfect, they are. Excellence is a praiseworthy virtue, but excellence doesn’t make us. Either we excel or not, we raise kids or not, we get degrees or not, we are at the frontline or not, there’s an identity to us that never changes.
It is simply this – a son or a daughter to our Father.
Sunday School teaches that we’ve gotta confess our sins, ask for forgiveness, follow the bible-in-one-year plan, sing in the choir, make good grades, honor, and all…
Again, they are right. What is omitted is the truth that, “Once we discover who we are as a result of who our Father is, all other things required of us are done without fuss.”
Knowing our standing with God, assured that we aren’t defined by what we do or not do, makes doing those things as easy as peeling a banana skin. But then, we tend to stray. We substitute relationship for standards, God for goals, we lose our identity.
There’s a need for us to abide in who we are. Who I am. Who you are. We don’t stress ourselves with the ambitions, the purpose, the passion, the demands. Yielding to God’s gentle thundering whisper, saying, “You are my Father, and I your son,” settles it all.
We see with open eyes. We are awed at the finished work of Christ. We know there’s no such thing as panic with God, in Christ. We aren’t worried about grades, status, gender, nationality.
We realize, “… there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”
We know we’d stray sometimes. We’d forget still. But we also know, “In our forgetfulness, Christ is ours, and we are His.”
We know who we are.
Afterword: Thank you very much for reading today’s post. I’m working on posting more often. Do stay in touch. Thanks.