Who am I? First off, I am a wife and a mother—those are extremely important roles to me. I am a writer and editor by vocation, both as a career as well as what I perceive to be my life’s calling. I am a classical guitar player and knitter who loves the outdoors. But do these things really define who I am? If I never married, never had children, never had the opportunity to go to college or work in an “educated” profession, never learned how to play guitar, scuba dive or sail as a teenage girl…who would I be then? Perhaps I would still be a knitter, but otherwise my life would look completely different. So there must be more to the question.
I just came across an NPR story written last November about a Japanese man who learned at age 60 that he had been switched at birth. Having been raised by a single mother in a 100 square foot apartment, he was actually the son of very wealthy parents. Without the benefit of higher education, he made his living as a truck driver. His “counterpart” on the other hand – the baby he was accidentally switched with by a nurse in the hospital – while born to a poor woman, has lived a life of privilege and was, at the moment of discovery, the president of a successful real estate company.
This story reveals the double-edged sword called identity. While it appears that the anonymous Japanese truck driver was (from of the verb “to be”) merely a product of his circumstances, it also illustrates that he was so much more, though he didn’t know it. What a difference knowing one’s identity makes!
As a Christ-follower, I believe my identity is rooted in the book of Genesis when Creator-God breathed life into a pile of dust that became the first human. Adam and his wife Eve were made in the image of their Creator and thus perfect in every way, including their spiritual perception and ability to commune with God. At least at first. For a while they lived intimately connected with God as well as the wonderful world that was under their stewardship. But you know the rest of that story…Adam and Eve fell from grace, and none of us have been the same since.
I mention the creation story because in this season of Lent, we would do well to spend some time remembering and reflecting on our true identity and “Who” it comes from. Jesus did this, I am convinced, as he spent 40 days in the wilderness tempted by Satan. His utter assurance of His identity, and clear understanding of who His Father was, were key to His victory over temptation and readiness for the mission that lay ahead.
Isn’t this something that all Christ-followers desire? And how does Lent play into the picture? I believe Lent – the custom of approximating in our own lives Jesus’ 40-day wilderness experience of temptation and preparation – has great value. As we focus on our deep inner longing for God’s touch in our daily experience, the need for greater concentration on our spiritual existence (our souls) through practices such as prayer, Scripture meditation, fasting, etc. becomes apparent.
The New Testament tells us that all Christ-followers are children of the living God (John 1:12-13). Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead were God’s way of redeeming the fatal mistake made by Adam and Eve, under whose curse the world and its inhabitants have been living since their crushing fall…His way of re-creating the Earth and the heavens – and yes, all of us – so that we can once again experience the wonder of Eden as it was originally intended—forever.
As Easter approaches, take some time to consider your identity. No matter what the circumstances of your birth, if you are a Christ-follower you are the son or daughter of the greatest King who ever walked the Earth (Genesis 3:8, John 12:12-13), the Lord God Almighty. And that’s an inheritance worth singing about.