“You’re not my daddy,” she said as she laughed to herself. “You’re my grandpa.”
Trying to get my attention, my three-year-old granddaughter inadvertently called me “Daddy.” After catching her mistake, she found it humorous that she would confuse her father’s father with her own father.
It was a cute moment, but it was an amazing moment. With only three years of total life experience, this little human being was beginning to shape her sense of identity. Who am I? Where do I fit in this relational organization chart? How do I behave with these people around me?
Her parents never told her to do this. She didn’t attend a preschool class in identity formulation. My guess is that she had no awareness that she was doing it. Yet it came naturally, because her sense of identity was hardwired inside her by the Creator of life.
Even though she’s only three years old, she’s really no different than you and me. We can’t properly understand what this life is about and what we’re supposed to do unless we first know who we are.
I like to think of it this way: “I am” always precedes and determines “I will.”
So over the next four weeks, I want to unpack four identities that the Bible assigns to us all. By better understanding who we are, we can better understand how to act in the situations, locations, and relationships of everyday life.
Identity #1 - Creature
You and I aren’t the authors of our own stories. We are God’s idea, we reflect his design, we exist for his purpose, and we have been commissioned to do his will.
We didn’t think ourselves up, and we didn’t emerge by chance out of primordial soup. Every experience and location of our lives are the result of the exercise of the will and purpose of the One who created us.
I don’t know if you do this, but I would encourage you to do so: Meditate on that fact that your story was written before the foundations of earth were set in place. It’s mind-numbing; it’ll keep you humble and in awe.
Being a creature means that when it comes to life, you and I weren’t designed to find our own way, to make it up as we go along, or to write our own set of rules. On the contrary, being a creature means that we have no ability to understand anything fully and correctly without the essential help of God’s revelation.
We must look to the Creator to understand the meaning, purpose, and danger of what we experience. We cannot exist without God’s wise counsel, anymore than Adam and Eve could have understood God’s plan for their life in the garden, without his loving explanation.
Here’s where it gets tough: In a culture that preaches “the good news” of autonomy and moral relativism, it’s counterintuitive to believe that submitting to the law of Another results in safety, freedom, and joy. Add to that the sinful desires of your heart to willingly and knowingly step over restrictions!
But, we know – and must preach to ourselves daily - that there is no better place to live than inside the boundaries of what the Creator has defined!
I would ask you: Did you find safety, freedom, and joy in your identity as a creature this week? Or did you live as if your life belonged to you?
Paul David Tripp
- When was the last time you meditated on the fact that your story was written before the foundations of the earth were set in place? (If it's been a while, do it now!) What was the response of your soul?
- How has culture (and your sinful heart) tried to persuade you recently that living with autonomy results in safety, freedom, and joy?
- How has living as if your life belonged to you actually resulted in the opposite of safety, freedom, and joy?
- What boundaries is God calling you to live within right now? How will submitting to the Creator result in safety, freedom, and joy?