How do you know what is important to you? Really?
I could say that my home library and books are important to me, my children are important, and my family. I might say that my husband is important to me, my work, my side projects, my education, and having a nice home.
What reveals what is truly important to us? Trial and suffering. When things are taken from us or the status quo is altered the veil is ripped in two and we can suddenly see where our allegiances lie.
I once looked at my sister with all seriousness and said my husband was on a work trip and I didn’t care if he came back. A few months later he left me for another woman and that callous lie I spoke was put to the test. I actually did care.
I served as a nonprofit women’s ministry leader for seven years. It was more than a job. It was a calling and passion. God asked me to leave that ministry and I did. My subsequent depression and grief told me that my identity was wrapped up in that position.
I always knew I loved my children. I fought bouts of hypochondria as a young mother. Overcome with worry that something would take me from them. I overcame that, but when they left home my devastation and long battle to get used to the changes told me that my identity was wrapped up in them.
“Pain sometimes lets us know we have a condition that needs to be healed. Pain sometimes lets us know that spiritually we’re not quite right and we need to be healed and that God will send that healing agent right to the spot.” Tony Dungy
The Seriousness of the Matter
When what we value is taken from us it reveals where our heart truly is. We react when we lose something of value. We may search for it with fervor and we may go to extremes to fill the void that is left when it is taken from us. I wonder how many sins stem from the hearts desire to replace something of value.
After a five year battle losing everything that made up my identity I noticed my heart started to wonder to fill the void. The pain and confusion were unbearable and the suffering of life had taken it’s toll. My heart did not wonder towards God. It wondered towards thinking of a co-worker, enjoying his smile, looking forward to receiving his attention, and imagining a new life away from all the pain.
A long battle revealed that my identity was wrapped up in ministry, my children, and having a bead on life. When what I loved was taken from me I shut down revealing that all was not right within me. Though I have not physically strayed from my husband my heart has. Left unchecked our hearts could lead us to places we do not want to go and having to deal with consequences that are worse than the original suffering itself.
Why does this even matter? It matters because I am a child of God. I am a new creation. I no longer live for me, but for Christ. As a new creation in the process of change my identity is very important to living out my life as a servant of God.
Identity in Christ
The culmination of our walk with God provides for the opportunity to make Him the true God of our heart. It’s not just church, not just prayer, not just Bible reading, and not just service. Like any good relationship it requires a combination of all of the above. My marriage requires more than a ring. It requires showing up, communication, hard work, commitment, and serving one another.
A committed life to God in all that we do from scrubbing the toilet to leading a ministry is key. Do all as unto the Lord. When our hearts our enamored with God we will be drawn to Him. We will show up to church because it’s a way to culminate the experience we had with Him all week. We will consistently talk with Him, study Him, and serve Him. It will be as if we are a bride in love. We won’t be able to stop ourselves.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”
We have died and been raised with Christ.
We have new life in Christ.
All our actions can be done in Christ.
All Christians together are one body in Christ.
There is a real and personal dwelling of Christ in us.
We strive to imitate Christ.
We are with Christ.
When what we love is truly Christ at the moment suffering enters our lives we will stay steadfast. We will be a rock. Our hearts will hurt, we can get depressed, sad, experience grief, and feel devastated, but our suffering will not rule us and our hearts will not wonder looking for something to fill the void.
In 2000, suffering entered my life. At that time my identity was in Christ. In fact I think He was preparing me for the trial of my life. I was down, hurt, I cried, experienced grief, and was sad, but my heart was steadfast and I was able to handle every blow with the assurance that God would deliver me. I had hope and my relationship with God flourished.
My heart did not go looking for someone’s smile, attention, or seek to catch someone elses gaze. Through every difficult moment my heart lept towards God and was held firm by my identity in Christ.
What do you love? Truly? The time to assess that is before suffering enters your life. The culmination of our relationship with God can help us determine where our loyalties lie. Seek Him! Ask Him to reveal the state of your heart and ask yourself if they didn’t call, didn’t come by, stopped texting, if I lose my job on Monday, if we have to move, if he leaves, or if I never see her again will my heart long for God?
Is my identity wrapped up in Christ or in the things of this world?