Friday, April 24, 2020
FINDING FREEDOM BY FINDING YOUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST
Through this very difficult time, I began to realize on a deeper level than ever before what it is to be a Disciple of the Lord Jesus. I gained insight that serves me well today. It all had to do with my sense of identity.
Growing up, I developed a sense of who I was through being a highly successful student and a horsewoman. I was also a devoted follower of Jesus from my earliest memory. I talked to the Lord and He talked to me. On one occasion, when I was 8 years old in a Sunday school class when we were studying the life of Stephen, I heard Him ask me: “Would you be willing to die for me?”
Growing up, I enjoyed church, reading my Bible, and singing hymns while I played my little chord organ. Then, when I was 16, the city-wide Billy Graham/Leighton Ford Crusade came to town, and I joined the choir, faithfully attended all of the meetings, and had a powerful encounter of knowing I was “saved.” On that occasion, the grass appeared greener and the sky seemed more brilliantly blue than ever before. It was as though something had been removed from my vision and God’s creation seemed more wonderful than ever.
My identity as a Christian was very important to me, but in retrospect, without realizing it, I self-defined first and foremost as a student and horsewoman. Therein was not only my real sense of who I was, but also my comfort zone was in those roles.
I became a school teacher, working mainly, but not exclusively, with junior high students. To a degree, my sense of identity became bound up in my relationship with “my kids.” After 10 months with these students, when the end of June would come each year, they would be gone from my life, and I would fall into a mild sense of loss—a mild state of depression.
But the real crisis came when my family moved from our country home where we had our horses. My brothers and I were now adult and away from home. My parents, as “empty nesters,” needed the more simple life of apartment living in the city in their senior years. But their decision left a big hole in my life.
In addition, I retired from teaching, and searching for God’s highest for my life, I enrolled in nursing school, thinking that being a nurse and an educator would make me more useable to Him. When I was 13, my teachers had encouraged me to become a medical doctor, but I knew that was not for me! And that reality was confirmed in my experience to become a nurse! I soon learned that God had not given me a personality designed for this humanitarian field of service, and for the first time in my life, I quit what I had begun.
No more horses. No more studies in which to excel. No more “others” to help define me.
I withdrew to my room with my Bible and tried to figure out life. God met me. The first thing He told me was not to blame anyone if my life was not fulfilling. He began showing me that I had the privilege and responsibility of making choices that would determine the quality and direction of my life. During this time, He baptized me in the Holy Spirit, giving me the power to live for Him more fully. (We cannot live fully for Him in our own strength!)
It was a really hard season for me. I was only in my mid-twenties and I was a “has been.” But through it all, I was coming to the realization that I would have to find my identity--my real sense of who I was--in Him alone.
The fact that I was to let God define me has been one of the most important things I’ve learned in life.
As Disciples of the Lord, our identity is not in what we can do. It’s not in our relationships. It’s not in ministry or a job. It’s not in marriage or singlehood. It’s not in parenting or caregiving. These speak of roles we might or might not fill in life. Roles fluctuate. They come and go. As Disciples of the Lord, however, our identity is in Christ alone.
Have you found that place of comfort, security, and peace? In finding our identity and reason for being IN HIM alone, we find settled rest and fulfillment. There is, indeed, a rest to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).
Dr. Susan Hyatt is the founder of the Int'l Christian Women's Hall of Fame & Research Center in Grapevine, TX (www.GWTWChristianWomensHallofFame.com). She and her husband, Dr. Eddie Hyatt, have been in the ministry together for over 40 years. Her books are available on Amazon and at their websites, www.godswordtowomen.org and www.eddiehyatt.com.