Who I Am
Good Morning! (smile)
There is a line in one of our songs that says “Transforming love is calling you by name…” God’s love has called me by name, and changed my life forever. God has used my church and its people and programs to make me a promise, to give me a challenge, and to fill me with answers and action. Through it all I have discovered the faith that’s at the center of Who I Am.
When I was 11, I got to go with a group from church on an amazing trip to Israel. We followed in the footsteps of Jesus in a wonderful, spiritual adventure, and he came alive for me there. I feel now as if God was at work in me then, laying a foundation and making a promise to me. I came to know Jesus in my heart, and it was a warm, comfortable feeling.
A lot of things changed in my life when I got to be a teenager, and especially when I entered high school. I joined this youth group, Starfire, and it was pretty intimidating at first. It looked like such a perfect group, how could I be part of it without being perfect? I tried to play a role, to cover up who I really was, without even realizing what I was doing. I ignored my heart and tried to just live in my head.
When it comes to intellectual stuff, I am known as the “answer man.” At school I’m the one who always has the answer, or who can come up with the quick one-liner. But last fall our youth group went on a weekend retreat where we studied the scripture from John 21, where Jesus tells the disciples to “cast their nets on the other side of the boat.” When they asked us to consider that scripture in the context of our lives, and to think about the question “Who are you?”, I was blown away. Suddenly I had no quick answer. Instead of producing a one-liner, the question produced tears. Somehow the Jesus in my heart connected with my head, and I had to face the fact that I had been pretending, that I had been taking the easy way of being negative instead of positive, that I was hiding my light and my gifts instead of putting myself out there. Why wasn’t I “casting my nets?” This was the challenge God now laid on top of his promise he had given me earlier.
I took that challenge and my life has not been the same since. I started to take more risks, to live my life like who I really am, not like some stupid concept of what’s “cool.” I discovered that everyone in Starfire isn’t perfect … we’re all human beings with the same problems. But we also all have the same ability to reach out to each other, to help each other and to work things out together.
I said earlier that God had filled me with answers. That doesn’t mean that I have everything all figured out or that my life is perfect. Far from it! But I realize that knowing God and having faith doesn’t mean that all my problems go away. It just means that I look at everything differently. I look through the eyes of my head and my heart, and I know unshakably that Jesus is right here with me. I’m trying to see him in everyday things. And I’m realizing that he is in everything …. Not just in flowers and beautiful sunsets, but also in things like Alzheimers, and ambulances, and in the tears of people I love.
That’s what faith is all about for me. It’s a permanent promise, an ongoing challenge, and a call to action. It is something that can’t be shaken, for I have felt God’s presence and seen his power. I am more comfortable being who I am, and I definitely know whose I am. And that’s a great feeling.