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Posts Tagged ‘#identity’

By Ahuva Klein

Where I live, it is dry.

A heat dome (a new word for the local vernacular) last month resulted in over 800 heat-related deaths. If you walk around it will quickly become obvious that plants and trees have been dying in this heat in which they are not designed to survive.

Everything is dry!

There has been no rain in July, only 37mm in June … the first half of June.

It is dry.

With the heat dome and the dry conditions forest fire season is upon us. Every day I awaken to updates on the radio, the weather websites. Images of smokey skies, people in shelters and fire racing up tall trees and hillsides are the daily visuals.

The other day, while listening to a podcast about (ironically) Moses and the burning bush, it took on new significance in this hot, dry summer.

The story of Moses is told in Exodus.

Just the other day I wrote about the conditions into which he was born in the post, Hidden in Their Hearts. His destiny at birth, like all the other Hebrew babies, was a permanent water bath (drowning).

So, years later,

Moses,

born in love

given back to God in trust

was in a hard place.

He had been raised in the palace of the Pharaoh,

killed an Egyptian guard,

run away,

protected seven sisters from shepherds who hadn’t allowed them to water their flocks at a well (but … maybe he was the one who was really thirsty?)

was given one of those daughters, in marriage (a Midianite woman who thought he was an Egyptian … so maybe he was still struggling with his identity?),

and now he’s off wandering in the dessert with his (his father-in-laws) flock.

Though it would appear that he knew his location, I think Moses was lost. The identity he portrayed was not that of a Hebrew, but Egyptian. He held within him the unconscious memories of songs and messages and prayers of his mother who buried them into his lovingly nurtured heart.

I think Moses might have been as dry as much of the landscape of British Columbia is currently … ripe for fire to burn it to ashes, to dust. He was a man born to a purpose, one his mother knew was a purpose given by the God who saved him as a baby. Yet, here he was, tending sheep in the hot, dry desert.

“the angel of the Lord appeared to him (Moses) in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.” (Exodus 3:2)

Moses was seeing the impossible. A tree, on fire, yet the tree was not destroyed. That would catch my attention!

Then he said something that reminded Moses who he was,

“I am the God of your father, 

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (v. 6)

“the God of your father” … in this statement and the following fathers of the Jews, God reminds Moses of his identity, of who he is, of the whispers of his mother, buried in his heart before he could understand. This is the beginning of his rebirth, the beginning of his life of really living. This is his holy ground moment.

As God tells Moses his plan to save the Israelites through him, Moses gets doubtful (the dry bones of doubt). And he says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (v.11)

Now, if I were God, I would be rolling my eyes (like a parent) and saying, “did you hear me? were you listening? I just told you who you are!”

But God, still burning in that still full of life bush, is much more patient and compassionate (v.12).

“And God said, “I will be with you.””

And this is the God I serve. He reminds me who I am and then he reminds me that

He.

will.

not.

leave.

me.

alone.

Yet, Moses still has doubts …

I think what is happening here is fascinating because there’s a bush on fire, but it’s not destroyed. God is speaking to Moses, telling him who he is, that he will not be left alone and it is Moses who is brought to ash in the face of this fire.

His life so far has been one of confusion and feeling lost and lacking attachment to anything and anyone. There have always been whispers of identity within his soul, yet they have always been out of reach, a jumbled mess. Now, in the midst of an isolated desert, the God of his people, God himself is challenging him to abandon his fear. To make the faith of his fathers HIS OWN FAITH. He has a choice to make … the choice we all have to make … do we chose to live the life God has for us?

And who shall I tell them sent me? This is Moses last question and the answer, though perhaps odd and indefinite to us (and to him) is nothing short of definite,

“I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.”


I am … no beginning, no end. Reliant on nothing and no one.

This is the God who creates, who never leaves our side, and, later in this story of Moses being willing to follow and obey God, we get to hear God’s ultimate promise, to the Israelites and to us all …

I will redeem you

Redemption is the result of obedience, of trust. It is the result of our ashes being born into new life. Only God can make new things out of the rubble of our dry and thirsty lives.

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There is much hesitancy in our world today to identify as … anything.

Gender is, obviously, much discussed, but it is not the only issue with great debate.

Interestingly, there are many people who go to church, attend youth or small groups, pray, participate in communion and practise many other activities related to Christianity … yet they struggle to identify as a Christian or Christ-follower.

The most common reasons I have heard for this lack of ability or willingness (or is it a lack of faith?) to identify as a Christian is:

  • they do not yet ‘have it all together’
  • they so not want to identify as a Christian because there are so many ways that Christians have messed up

In the early days of Christendom, identifying with Christ was very public.

Baptism was the initial identifier of those (Jews) who were identifying as followers of Jesus, their Messiah. It was John the Baptist (the cousin of Jesus) who was inviting them to confess their sins, then come to the Jordan River, where they would be symbolically, publicly cleansed or redeemed of their sins.

The Jewish people could relate somewhat to this practise, as the Jewish custom of Tvilah was common. In this ancient practise, people of the Jewish faith went to be cleansed, purified, restored after having encountered something or someone (ie. a corpse) unclean, according to Levitical law.

The baptism that John was inviting the Jews, the early Christians, to was a once-for-all cleansing. It was symbolic of the forgiveness and redemption that Jesus had come to offer …

Forgiveness and redemption for our sins
yesterday, today and tomorrow.

John the Baptist did not invite people who were already purified to participate in the baptism that he was performing, but those who were dirty and who desired to be clean … those who acknowledged their sin-dirty condition, and who were choosing to be identified with the only one who could make them clean for all eternity.

For those waiting to identify with Christ until they ‘have it all together, the identifying comes before the purification … and the having it all together is a goal, not a destination.

For those not wanting to identify with Christ, because of the many Christians who have, are and will mess up … see above. They are not perfect, as you and I are not perfect “not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

Paul said,
“John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.
He told the people
to believe in the one coming after him,
that is, in Jesus.”
Acts 19:4

 

 

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We’ve seen it all, heard it all, done it all …

and yet do we know who we are?

We encourage fitness, education, therapies, plastic surgeries, diagnosis, knowledge, training and self improvement …

yet, do we know who we are?

We read the books, all the books …

yet, do we know who we are?

We have voices everywhere telling us (or ours is telling others) who we, who they, are.

We see magazines, and talk shows telling us that outward change will change their, change our, lives for the better.

We are told to do, to say, to learn, to change, to become who we really are, who we have always been meant to be …

yet, do we know who we are?

If I listen to my heart …

I will think only of me

If I listen to my body …

I will think only of me

If I listen to my mind …

I will think only of me

So often we try to make changes to our body, to how we live, or we venture into studies and programs, or we sit with a therapist, thinking that these outward changes will change our life, who we are. Though they may help for awhile, we need to recognize that who we are is not about what we feel, or think, or know.

Our diet is not who we are.

Our occupation is not who we are.

Our gender is not who we are.

Our education is not who we are.

Our race or culture is not who we are.

Our passion is not who we are.

Even our religion is not who we are.

In Jeremiah 1:5 we are told:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart …”

You, and I, were conceived in the plan of Christ before our heart, body and mind were created. Our soul was the planned work. We existed in the mind of the Creator, for we are His creation, we are reflections of the Creator.

I read a blog post, this past weekend, written by a woman, who has fought the Cancer fight for years. Her post was titled, “I am Ready to Die.” In it, she tells of how she still believes that she could be healed, but that she is ready to say farewell to this life.

The final line of her post is this:

“Isn’t saying I’m ready to die just meaning it is well with my soul?”

And, isn’t saying it is well with my soul, meaning I am okay?

Your heart is not you,
It is your reflection.
Your body is not you,

It is your container.
Your mind is not you,
it is the information center.
So, who is “you”?
Your soul is you,
and in it, you are uniquely you.
Carole Wheaton

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As I entered the class, I spied a young man who I knew I had to greet, by name. When I did, his entire face smiled, his mouth, his cheeks, his eyes. Every time I enter that class, or pass this student in the halls of the high school where I work, I make a point of greeting him, by name.

You see, I am horrible at remembering names. The first time I attempted greeting his young man, by name, I called him a similar, but wrong name. I apologized, and he said it was okay … but the look on his face was as if I had stabbed him in the gut.

That look on his face has forced me to greet him, by his (right) name, every time that I see him.

I needed to not fail this young man again … so I wrote his name on the palm of my hand. I knew where to look for a reminder, and no one was ever the wiser.

Each consecutive time I smile and greet him by name, his smile gets bigger, and bigger. Although in a few months my cheery greeting  may begin to annoy his teenage self, I know that when he hears me say his name, he knows that I have made the effort to know his name.

His name, on my lips, has become an expression of effort, and of interest in him.

Ever noted that name of a waiter, a cashier, or other service person? Ever received your receipt then smiled and wished that person a good day? by name? Most often my minuscule amount of effort is received in surprise, joyful, delighted. You can almost feel their joy as you walk away.

Our name is important. Our name is the only thing that, without tools or devices, can declare our identity.

Ever felt that your name, that you, were not valued? Ever felt that your identity was forgotten?

There is one who knows your name.

It is even written on the palm of His hand.

 

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