For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don't know which is better.
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. (Galatians 2:19-21; Philippians 1:20-22; Romans 8:16-18, NLT)
I've never had amnesia, nor have I known somebody who has suffered with it. I can only imagine the frustrating and debilitating nature of the disorder. In its deepest (and most rare) form, the person loses almost all links to the past and is left continually asking, "Who am I really?" It's the stuff of fiction mostly, but I think you'll agree it portrays the ultimate identity crisis and none of us would willingly wish it on another person.
I have recently finished a book about person who sought all her brief adult life to answer that golden question, "Who am I really?" Richard Schmidt compiled what must have been reams of information and spent countless hours putting together the biography he titled Little Girl Blue. The story is familiar to many, though I'd never heard all the details Schmidt brings out. The book's cover is a picture done in a shaded blue tone of pop icon Karen Carpenter. A friend of mine (thanks Mike) and fellow Carpenters fan pointed me to the book and I knew I had to read this unvarnished account of her life.
As I finished reading it, I was struck by Karen's constant search for an identity other than the one thrust upon her by her family and the music industry. She finally exerted control over one thing in her life ... and it cost her dearly. She died from heart failure brought on by her own unintentional poisoning with ipecac. Her anorexia and bulimia, which she had once used to help structure her life, had claimed the very thing she sought to preserve. Her search for her own identity had been cut short - very short in deed.
Yet control and identity are things we often seek for ourselves. Though most of us don't go to the extreme that Karen Carpenter did, we still pursue our own answers to the question of "Who am I really?" We'll try most anything, or at least consider it, and then somehow be shocked when our feeble efforts fail and we end up right back where we started. You see, the search for self-reliance must always end this way. God never intended for us to be self-reliant at all. He wants us to find our identity in His provision of Christ and the finished work on the Cross. In fact, as Paul noted, we are to consider ourselves crucified with Christ and loudly proclaim that He is the only reason for living, as it is He who truly give Life.
What an excellent promise we can claim because our identity is bound up in Christ! We have been granted the position of joint heirs ... legally declared equal in status with our Divine Brother and inheritors that Divine Treasure without any reservation. In the mystery that is His vicarious death for us, we are afforded the opportunity to cast away our own sense of self-identification and take full stock in His identity as sons and daughters of the Holy One. Never again need we puzzle at the question "Who am I really?" The Answer was shouted out at Calvary and is ours for the asking.
As I travel my Crooked Path, I know that to have true identity and individuality means to give up my own ideal and cast everything I have and am in with Christ. In doing that, I can confidently say that I am an image-bearer of God and an eternal brother of the One who gave it all up for me. No more searching; no more uncertainty. My steps quicken and my heart fills with those thoughts. I am God's child ... pure and simple!
- Do you find yourself suffering an identity crisis? Have you somehow lost sight of the One in whom you will find your true self?
- Have you grown tired of the constant struggle to prove yourself, the battle to assert your own will upon a difficult and cruel world? What would it feel like to rest from all that?
- Does the concept of being the brother or sister of Christ somehow seem unreachable or foreign to you? What is it going to take for you to stop searching on your own and give it all over to your Divine Big Brother? He is more than capable of handling it, you know.