25 Oct Reminders of our Identity
One of the things I see clearly in the biblical narrative of Jacob’s life is how God never gave up on Jacob and the plan he had for Jacob’s life.
It gives me comfort because I know he brings that same faithfulness and patience to bear when he looks at me. Alternatively, though, Satan also doesn’t give up easily when it comes to my weaknesses and vulnerabilities. He knows exactly what temptation is most likely to deceive me into walking away from the direction God has for me.
When I was in my 20s, I went through a period of intense spiritual striving over who was going to be in charge of how I lived my life—God or me. I was a Christian and wanted to follow God, but I also had a sin I was particularly attached to, and even when I did want to give it up, its grip on me was so strong I felt like I couldn’t possibly. In the end, God enabled me to come underneath his authority, and the richness and sweetness I found in that relationship as he walked me through that difficult time was like a mountaintop experience for me—or perhaps like Jacob’s riverside experience of God.
The sense of victory was so powerful, I was certain the issue was over and done with for good. But 10 years and several life events later, the temptation popped back up. It started as a gentle nudge, a reminder, a whisper—“didn’t that used to make you feel so good?” Before I knew it, the battle was back: a back-and-forth where some days I let myself go back, and others I strengthened my resolve not to go back. I couldn’t believe this was happening again.
“Before I knew it, the battle was back: a back-and-forth where some days I let myself go back, and others I strengthened my resolve not to go back.”
Then one day, I heard a song. It was the first time I’d ever heard this song, but it became an instant favorite.
“Seems like all I could see was the struggle,
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past,
Bound up in shackles of all my failures,
Wondering, how long is this gonna last?
Then you look at this prisoner and say to me ‘Son,
Stop fighting a battle that’s already been won.’”
The song, “Redeemed,” by Big Daddy Weave, goes on to remind me that “I don’t have to be the old man inside of me” and that “I have a new name, a new life, I’m not the same.”
“God had to remind me of the identity he had already given me so many years before. He had to remind me that it was still true, no matter what life felt like.”
God had to remind me of the identity he had already given me so many years before. He had to remind me that it was still true, no matter what life felt like. And as powerful as my experience had been a decade earlier, the truth is that one mountaintop (or riverside) experience is not enough to sustain me through a lifetime of carefully designed pitfalls of temptation, and God has to regularly remind me of the identity he’s already given me, just as he does for Jacob upon his return to Bethel.
The first time I realized that God tells Jacob almost word for word the same thing he told him after the riverside wrestling match, I was confused. But the more I live, the more I understand why God has to remind us over and over of the wonderful truths he’s already conveyed. I wish it weren’t the case, but I’m beyond thankful for his patience and tenderness.
Lark has an indoor day job, but likes to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors with her family. She enjoys camping, hiking and biking, along with activities that are easier to bring indoors like reading and singing—much to the chagrin of her three boys and, sometimes, co-workers. Lark attends our Pelham Road campus.