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!