I listened in the auditorium as Jeff Manion talked about a passage from Ephesians 1 that says we have been adopted by God. We have become part of his family. We are his beloved sons and daughters.
He went through a whole litany of places and positions where people get their identity. For many it is their jobs and their position in the community. It can be athletic skill. Musical skill. For many it can come from being a parent.
And then he got to my part of the list where he said many get their identity from having been abandoned by someone. He talked figuratively about being thrown off the train by a parent who just plain walks out and never comes back. He had my attention.
As long as I can remember my identity had been calibrated from that point where my dad made a statement by just walking out on my mom and me. I wasn't important enough for him to stick around, hence, I always felt I wasn't that important. This is a feeling that would come and go.
It was like a monkey on my back that would ride there for weeks and then one day kick me in my side with big spurs on its feet and I would be reminded of who I really was. I was the person that my dad wanted my mother to abort when she was pregnant.
Then I found him in my late twenties and he totally disowned me. I went to his door on the other end of the country expecting at the very least that he would at the very least acknowledge me as his son. He threatened me if I didn't leave. Not knowing what he would do I left. I was devastated.
His reaction to me was another big piece in the puzzle that went into the make-up of my identity.
I've gone through periods where I would mentally call myself a loser, shithead, stupid and all other kinds of stuff.
This didn't stop me from living life, but it took some of the quality and the confidence that you need in daily living. I did stuff. I worked at some really neat jobs and knew a bunch of important people.
But there was always the dad piece in my identity. And then last October, Jeff Manion, the pastor where we attend church started talking about how we got our primary identity. This is the one that really counts.
It came from being adopted into God's family and this happened through what Jesus did on the cross to pay for all the crap of mankind.
Jeff kept saying, "Remember who you are. Remember who you are. Remember who you are." He said that I was adopted. paid a price for and firmly sealed into God's family.
I really need to hear that everyday and today is no exception. So do my kids and my grandson and grandchildren to come.
I had heard pastors say this kind of thing before, but it always came across as a bunch of spiritual blah, blah, blah. I could never wrap my hands or my heart around it. This spiritual truth seemed unreachable and unreal.
Maybe I need to have it tatooed on my arm or on my hand so I can constantly see it.
I'm counting on this being the truth.