In Pursuit of Identity

Have you ever felt like you have lost your identity?  We all have this happen as we transition into different stages of life.  When I was very young my identity was found in a dog named Fritzy…He had big ears, was soft and I took him everywhere.  That is until I started school and it was no longer acceptable for a boy in kindergarten to carry a stuffed dog everywhere.  It only took one comment from a classmate to realize it was time to lose the dog.

Throughout high school and college my identity slowly transitioned from a stuffed dog to athletics.  I competed in all the normal sports in school…football, wrestling, baseball etc.  I also tried skateboarding and even windsurfing on the Mississippi River.  A quick turn through the old photo album confirms my greatest fear….I was not near as cool as I thought.  The old memory certainly can play tricks though.

This reality came shortly after my wedding.  NOBODY cares about your high school or college career after you are married.  It is no longer cool to share stories of fame on the old gridiron.  The old memories of that huge win pretty much fall on empty ears unless you are talking to the one person who can beat everything….you know the stories….”I would be in the NFL if it wasn’t for the knee injury.”  Or, the guy who plays softball four nights a week and still thinks that Major League Baseball is going to scout the church league for talent.  His identity lies in the stories of great moments in sports history…“Remember last Tuesday night when I gunned down that guy from center field?”  My interpretation: the guy trying to score from first on a base hit ran just fast enough to get his gut over his knees and so when rounding third he had the choice to fall down and look as pathetic as he was or keep going with the momentum and hope for a collision at home plate.  Since he chose to keep going, the “three-hopper” from short center was just enough to get him out.  My message to “Mr. Softball”, if you have to find your identity on the softball field, there may be a good reason to start looking for a few other places to pamper your ego.

As we age there is something positive about keeping a youthful identity.  I enjoy trying to keep up with people half my age.  I enjoy looking somewhat youthful….and this is exactly why I am walking around in a daze.  This week, Leigh-Ann and I committed the ultimate act of treason against our youth and purchased a MINIVAN.  I just cringed as I typed those words.  We had a cool truck and we traded it for a MINIVAN.  Yes, I can understand why you have lost respect for me…I have lost respect for me.  I have to look in the mirror every morning….I have to drive the MINIVAN.  Before, on a bad day, I could get into the truck, put it in four wheel drive run right over the curb and park on the grass at Alexa’s soccer games….if I try that this week with a minivan, it could fall apart.  So I am bound to stay on paved roads in the right lane….there is nothing cool about passing someone with a MINIVAN.  When driving down the road, I used to look down into everyone’s car and feel a little superior…now when driving down the road I am constantly reminded that I am middle aged with kids and I drive a MINIVAN.

I have finally come to the conclusion that I will not find my identity in a stuffed animal, athletic accomplishments or my vehicle.  In all seriousness, it is very natural for us to fall into the trap of looking for an identity in all the wrong places.  We are so often enamored with spending our life in the pursuit of good and wasting our time while spending it.  Christ has called us to find our identity in Him and fulfilling His great commission.  Herb Hodges said, “If you are spending your life, the expenditure is final. There is not a dividend from the act. Frankly, most ‘Christian activities’ we engage in whether church attendance, Bible reading, prayers, etc. are expenditures more than they are investments. They are ‘survival’ activities to make us ‘good Christians’ instead of investments which will impact the world to the ends of the earth ’til the end of time. Thus they betray the Commission of Jesus.”

Our identity must communicate the characteristics of disciple-making.  Christ has called us to deny ourselves and follow him.  The good news is we don’t need a truck to carry that cross….

I invite you to join us this Sunday to hear a powerful message on discipleship from Reverend Herb Hodges.  I hope you have the best weekend yet….pursuing the cross!

God Bless!

Troy

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Patiently awaiting the revealing of Truth

Since the discovery of the wheel, there have been some great inventions.  Think about how the incandescent (yes that is a big word) light bulb has changed our lives.  Ok you can stop thinking…  Other important inventions such as the telephone, personal computer, air conditioning and remote control have made HUGE impacts in our lives.  Can you imagine what life was like when people had to get out of the couch or chair move across the room and change the TV channel?  And also, whoever invented air conditioning did not get paid enough.  I have yet to meet someone in 100 + degree weather, complaining about having to sit in a cooler climate.

Not all inventions have been totally positive.  There are a few inventions that we have a love – hate relationship with.  The football is one of the first that comes to mind. Yes, the football.  To some of you the very mention of the word football makes you salivate.  Your mind immediately springs into motion thinking about your favorite team and remembering that time on Thanksgiving Day when you went deep for a touchdown.  This was not any ordinary touchdown, it was you against the world and the ball was overthrown, but YOU went up for it and with the fingertips of one hand, pulled it in for the annual Turkey Bowl victory.  Now every holiday you remind everyone (since for some reason you are the only one that remembers it) of that great catch in the backyard complete with an end zone dance that would make Chad Johnson green with envy.  You may be totally out of shape, but the mere sight of a football makes you feel like you could read a defense like Peyton Manning, run through tackles like Larry Johnson, and score touchdowns like LaDanian Tomlinson.  The NFL needs you…they need your mind for the game, your experience and passion to win.

Sadly though, these warm fuzzy thoughts do not saturate everyone’s mind at the sound of the word “football.”  In fact, as difficult as this may be to believe, some people could care less about football (cue loud gasp)!   This is the time of year that we begin to hear stories of football widows.  How come we never hear stories about Oprah widowers?  This is where the hate part of the invention comes in.  I do not understand how a red blooded American can be apathetic about the FOOTBALL.  But sad to say, it is a reality.  This one is close to home….because Leigh-Ann thinks I am crazy.  She says, “What is the big deal about a bunch of grown men running around in tight pants and helmets, chasing a ball and trying to tackle each other…Don’t they have something better to do?”  This is when things get a little testy in our household…I have learned some things need no defense – they speak for themselves.  Nobody needs to defend the value of the wheel and the telephone and I certainly do not need to defend the value of football.  It is a given…it is a truth yet to be revealed.

So as I write this, I patiently wait for Leigh-Ann to come to the light….to view reality through the eyes of truth.  It would be impossible for me to force the inevitable upon her…so I wait patiently for her to see the value of football.  At the going rate, I may need to wait until we get to heaven before she understands the value of football.  Just Kidding!  It seems every year she shows signs of breaking (of course, after this e-mail there will probably be something else breaking…my streak of 8+ years of not having to sleep on the couch).

This Sunday we will be studying patience from a whole different perspective.  Much more important than waiting for a spouse to agree with you (we all know that may never happenJ), God has called us to wait for His timing in certain circumstances.  It is never easy to accept timing besides “RIGHT NOW” but there are stages in our lives for which God has a different plan.  This week we will see why God has called us to stop trying to manufacture ministry and wait on Him to perform miracles in lives.  If at all possible, I hope you will plan to join in our Sunday Morning worship service this week.  Wherever you are, please pray for God to do His work in your life.  I hope you have a great weekend that is focused on “God.”

God Bless!

Troy

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”