Where Does Real Courage Come From?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Who are You, Lord? Who am I?

 Excerpt taken from Thad's first book, "Real Identity" (pg 69) 


     Dame Cicely Saunders died on July 14, 2005, at the age of eighty-seven. A remarkable woman who will long be remembered. What she did has hugely impacted our world for the better.
     What she did wasn’t who she was. That didn’t come first. She first belonged to Jesus Christ. In 1945 after the divorce of her parents, Cicely Saunders converted from agnosticism to Christianity. It was based on this faith in the Lord that she prayed to know how best to serve God. She believed He had a plan for her life, that He was in control of her days, and that He knew her intimately, as Psalm 139:15–16 says.
     Too often in life, we think the exact opposite. We are what we do. our identity is wrapped up in our achievements: what school we went to, what degrees we’ve earned, what jobs we’ve held, places we’ve traveled, people we’ve known, power we’ve wielded, or possessions we’ve accrued.
     But we are not what we do. That’s a lie from the Devil himself.
     We are first people created by God for God. Our identity is first found in Him. Our value. Our worth. Our meaning. Our purpose in life comes second, always second. Because we can’t know what He’s called us to do until we first know He created us and called us to Himself, for Himself.
     We belong to Him.
     That’s where we find our worth. Not in what we do but in who we belong to.
     This was true for Cicely Saunders. What she did in life, writes David Clark her biographer, was “underpinned by a powerful religious commitment.”1 She wanted to serve the Lord. That was her prayer. And He answered, giving her a heart and passion for the dying. She trained as a nurse and social worker. Then, at the age of thirty-three, in a day when few women were doctors, she studied to be a doctor. So she could devote herself to the dying.
     That peculiar time in life when we can’t do for ourselves. When all we have is stripped away. And if our identity is wrapped up in what we do, we’re in big trouble because we can’t do. Not then. Not when we’re dying.
     But if our identity is wrapped up in Who we belong to, if our worth is found in the one who created us and called us to Himself, then everything changes.
     Everything! Because we matter to Him. And in Him we have worth.
     Dr. Cicely Saunders dreamed the impossible dream. She wanted the dying to know the kindness and mercy of God. So she became the founder of a “worldwide movement to provide compassionate care for the dying.” A movement called hospice. She said, “I didn’t set out to change the world; I set out to do something about pain.” Physical pain.
And heart pain. She’d tell her patients, “you matter because you are you, and you matter to the last moment of your life.”2
     You matter before God. Not just what you do. You matter because you are you.
     The world around us teaches us that purpose comes first. Find purpose, find identity. Just take the simple test. Ask somebody, “Who are you?” And more times than not they’ll tell you what they do. “I’m a school teacher . . . a lawyer . . . a salesman . . . a hockey-dad.” “I’m a mom . . . a wife . . . an accountant . . . a businesswoman.” I am what I do. In order to be somebody, I have to produce. And if I produce, I get to tell people that I’m somebody.
     It’s how the world spins. Find purpose, find identity.
     As I was growing up, I remember being told that men often die after they retire. They don’t know what to do with themselves. They get lost in life because all they know is what they do. And what they do is who they are. So the moment they stop doing what they do, they lose themselves.
     Big, big trouble. Being a Christian changes all that.
     When somebody asks us, “Who are you?” we know what to say, “I’m a Christian.” or, to say it another way, “I belong to Christ.” Because who we are is wrapped up completely in Who He is.
     We belong to Him. He made us. By God’s own hand, we were “skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.” He saw our “unformed substance.” In His book “were all written the days that were ordained” for us. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14–16).
     Our identity begins and ends with God. Whether we can or can’t do. Our value, our worth, our meaning, is found in our relationship with Him. Just as the good doctor, Cicely Saunders said.
     You matter before God. Not just what you do. You matter because you are you.
     That’s how the Christian walk starts. Identity comes first. The first questions are never, “What’s my purpose, Lord? What have you called me to do?” The first two questions are, “Who are you, Lord, and who am I?”


Questions for Reflection

When somebody asks you, “Who are you?” what do you say?

Is it possible that your identity is wrapped up deeply in what you do 
and what you’ve accomplished?

1.  Barbara Field, “science Hero: Dame Cicely Saunders,” The My Hero Project, last modified September 29, 2012, http://www.myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=Cicely_saunders_ 06.
2.  Ibid.

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John 15:1-11, the Vine and the branches. "Is He everything to you?