A few weeks ago I heard our pastor tell us about how he had to surrender football to God for a season. He grew up the son of a pro football coach, and he and his brothers played football as well. Sundays were made for football. He himself played football in college. When God called him to the ministry, obviously, he surrendered the dream of going pro and settled for probably watching some games taped or just catching the end or even missing them all together. But at some point he felt God ask him to “give Me football.” He felt that he already had given him football, but the more he prayed about it, the more he realized that football was still an idol in his life, and for five years y’all he did not watch football at all…that’s a pretty big sacrifice for a man who grew up that way, but he laid it down on the altar to God to say it will not be my god…and obviously, now he can still enjoy football, he just knows it’s not his God.
Our church is in a season of fasting and praying for this upcoming year, and we have a devotional that we do corporately. A couple days ago, our devo was entitled “What’s in a Name?” and it discussed the names people call us and the identities that we take on, but that our most important name, our most important identity is in Christ. God has called us by His name; He has made us in His image. We are called Christians…but is that really the identity that we cling to most???
I told the story of my pastor, because I think in a large way it illustrates well how we don’t know if we really just hold our identity in Christ or if maybe we have made a tiny bit of an idol/safety net out of other identities until we are asked to lay them down or they are stripped from us. Pastor Joe was pretty much Joe Football at that point – his family didn’t go to church growing up, they weren’t religious – they were football – and he gave up football, even watching it….
When Scott and I got married and our daughter was born exactly one year and three weeks later, I had a lot of identity change fast. I mean I hadn’t even graduated from college before I married Scott – I went straight from high school to college student to married to mom in just a few short years and my world was rocked. My body changed. The activities I was involved in changed. I wasn’t able to go the hair salon and get my hair highlighted (and all my sista’s out there that need a good stylist said a good amen), and at the time I was in school and married and mom and living on nickels and dimes trying to make ends meet.
I remember really wrestling with God over my physical appearance, especially. People treat you differently, I felt, and I just felt so…worthless. I remember just begging God to get my hair done. Feel free to laugh, it’s ok. I remember just wrestling over the thought of someone seeing me disheveled with spitup on my shoulder and baby boogers across the knees of my jeans, my roots grown out in some sort of backwards hombre, and clothing that could not hide all the baby weight that I had gained along the way. I mean, I know all moms go through this to some degree, but we were in some pretty serious situations and I was also working full time by this point and taking 18 hours of courses trying to finish my degree, so I was a little worse than your average just had a baby look. I felt ashamed.
And God and I wrestled. I cried. I cried a lot! I told him how I hated that I felt so humbled and ugly and how people treated me like I was so worthless. I hated feeling like I never had it together. I hated feeling so sleep deprived and like everything was out of control. I had so carefully built an identity where I was mostly well put together and well-manicured and well liked, and now I just felt like a mess, and I was hiding.
It was in that place that God asked me where my worth comes from. He asked me, “What is your name?” “Who are you?” Are you a blonde haired cheerleader? Are you some girl who used to be a cute little blonde haired cheerleader in high school and now is some typical has been overweight mom? (He didn’t say that last part – that was me) Your family doesn’t like you – so do they get to decide your worth? Who are they? Are you Scott’s wife? Are you Laurelei’s mom? What if something happens to them? Who are you then?
And then I cried more. And God had me go to the place where what if the worst happened and something happened to my sweet hubbie and my precious babies – even then, God would still be on his throne. Even then. And who would I be then?
And then it came to me…
I am the daughter of the Most High King. A princess of the highest royal line, not that I am better than any other, but that I have chosen to accept my inheritance. My freedom cannot be taken from me unless I give it away. I have power, I have beauty, I have strength because I am made in the image of the Most High God. The One and Only – The God! I am loved. And I am not hard to love, either. I am loved well. I am adored, admired, and wanted. I am paid for at a high price. I am His.
And my friends…so are you. What other names have you allowed people to call you – for me it was unlovable, irritating, ditzy, too deep, sensitive, too quiet, too loud
Or what identities have you clung to –
Hobbies or relationships or even I heard a song today that made me think “I’m a a little more country than that”…there was a time in my life where I told God I would go wherever He called me – even if it was to the city (which to me is a like a mega sacrifice), not that these are bad things….just they must all be surrendered to our identity in Christ! Because under Him our desires, our hearts true desires will always be fulfilled.