Who am I? Have you ever asked that question? Every time I hear that phrase my mind thinks of Jackie Chan’s movie by that same name. He has amnesia and is standing on top of a mountain and shouts out that question, “WHO AM I?!” I love that movie. At least he had an excuse: amnesia. What about us? We can feel guilty about being confused about who we are, thinking that we ought to have a handle on our own identity.
In our study of Covenant and Kingdom we have moved onto the life of Moses. We join him at the burning bush in Exodus 3 and 4. This is the first time that Moses hears the voice of God. Certainly the whole setting startles him, but I wonder if it surprised him that God knew his name. And his heritage: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:6) I believe God is beginning to re-orient Moses in his identity. He has spent the last 40 years tending his father-in-law’s sheep in the desert. I imagine that perhaps the first year, or decade (!),…he would often think about his past: born a Hebrew, raised in Pharoah’s household, comes to the defense of one of the people he knows he is a part of (Hebrew slave being beaten), kills the taskmaster and is forced to flee into the desert and leave all he knows behind. But after a while, either through suppression or intentional divorce, I imagine he buried his old life and looked to forget it and instead to create a new and fresh beginning.
And so God helps Moses through this identity crisis.
What seems to be true is that identity is given from the outside before it becomes reality in the inside. Rarely does one create one’s own identity. Our identity is almost imposed from without. Or we let our environment formulate who we are. Clearly, this is why parents and a settled home life play such an important part in a person’s sense of security and confidence. If our identity and heritage are clearly communicated to us, we know who we are and how we should act. Acting confidently in the world comes from a deep inner knowledge of who we are, and this knowledge of our identity is given by those around us. So parents, don’t underestimate the critical role you play in the life of your children.
Moses heard God confirm his identity. And in time his confidence grew, as he began to understand what it meant to exercise God given power based on God given authority which is received from God given identity. Who do you take your lead from? Who do you allow to tell you who you are? If we are followers of Christ it is imperative we listen only to the voice of God in receiving our identity. Who are you? A child of your loving Heavenly Father. A child of the King of the Universe, who has chosen you to be one of his representatives on the earth.