Admittedly, there is so much that I do not understand about this world. Every new day brings a new lesson to be learned. This is why time should encompass wisdom. Sadly, with each generation that comes and goes, wisdom and its importance seems to dwindle. Why is this? Possibly because we have become a nation so far removed from the very source of wisdom (God), and are more focused on seeking knowledge and discovering our “purpose” in life.
I work in a hospital as a Patient Care Associate. One afternoon I was tending to a patient with the help of her son. To make conversation I asked him “so what do you do for a living?” He answered the query with a plethora of job titles in various places in the world and explained that nothing he did quite suited who he was. He wasn’t capable of loving any of the career paths that he had chosen. After breaking down each career, its location and why he couldn’t continue working under the job title, he summed it all up saying,
“I’m just trying to find who I am ya know”
The very next day I was giving care to an elderly foreign patient. He began to express his worries to me about being in America, not having money, and having his children take care of him financially. He proclaimed, “Brother it’s so hard for me. I don’t even know how I’m going to pay this bill.” After his worries were mitigated he summed it all up saying, “Look brother, I’m not from here. Jamaica was my home and now…
I just don’t know who I am ya know?”
That night while lying in bed with my wife, I explained the irony of having two patients confide in me regarding the same issue. Then a few questions dawned on me. Why is lacking cognizance of one’s self so prevalent in this day and age, and why is the statement “I’m trying to find who I am” so commonly followed by “ya know?”
If I had to guess I’d say the “ya know” is the individual hoping that they’re not alone, or maybe they’re hoping for some sort of insight into their identity crisis. Usually the response to that statement is a prolonged just above a whisper, “yeah”; indicating that the person identifies with the individual searching for themselves and feels as though the statement was “deep.”
Since that night I’ve asked a number of people, “who are you?” and explained the premise of the question. A common issue among those I asked was they tried to define who they are with what they are. For instance, some answers I received were, “I’m a mother,” “I’m a wife,” “I’m a dancer”, or “I’m a singer.” I’ve even heard someone say, “I’m a dog lover.” None of those things can accurately answer the question. The most intriguing answer I received came from a physician because he was 100 percent sure that describing himself as a doctor was a precise depiction of who he was. A doctor is a job title or a career path to be pursued, not something that defines who you are.
All of the things they used to characterize themselves are things that many people use to characterize themselves. Those things are things that WE make of ourselves. WE cannot define who WE are personally because then our identity would change rapidly as we get older and as our environmental influences change. Who we are should be something so true, so consistent and so real that we’d be willing to lay our lives down behind its authenticity. The fact of the matter is,
God gives us our identity.
A great example from the bible would be when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask John the Baptist who he was. They questioned him asking if he was the Messiah, the prophet, or Elijah. John freely confessed that he was none of the above and proudly proclaimed in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord” (John 1:23). John knew who he was and his purpose. Despite having a peculiar lifestyle he became relatively popular and wise, but his popularity and wisdom came due to his pursuit of the will of God, not a pursuit of happiness or understanding of himself. Hefound who he was and his purpose in God! If you ponder it long enough you will find that,
There is no purpose without God!
Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? When will I know? These questions are all insoluble without God. Without God you serve no purpose and have no reason because your existence is a matter of chance. You weren’t created you were just born. When something is created, it is made with intention. This is why trying to understand yourself apart from God is impossible! When someone truly understands his/herself they will resemble the Apostle Peter in Acts 12, when he was imprisoned.
Peter was sentenced to death once the celebration of Passover concluded. Peter didn’t have any reason other than his faith to believe that he wasn’t going to die. Especially because his fellow disciple James was killed just before Peter was captured and by the very man that captured Peter. Usually people beg for their lives, worry about their children and other loved ones, or plead with God to live another day. But when Herod went to get Peter from his cell, Peter was sleeping. Sleeping!!! This is a beautiful depiction of growth in Christ. Peter had finally mastered his faith. He had come so far from the days where he would worry in the midst of storms and sink while walking on water with Jesus. He finally learned to
Something to be acknowledged is that Jesus brought Peter out of his boat and took him to the field to harvest. As Peter walked with Jesus his love grew for Jesus but his faith was weak. In Peter’s mind he was just a fisherman following this great prophet (another case of defining who he was with what he was). There were times where Peter was assertive about his faith but Jesus knew where he truly was spiritually. Though feeble at the time, Jesus knew Peter’s faith would eventually exceed that of his brothers which is why he told Peter,“I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). It took a walk with Jesus, denying the son of God, witnessing the resurrection, the ascension, and Journey after Journey spreading the gospel for Peter to understand he was no longer a fisherman but a fisher of men. God gave him purpose, his role, and an understanding of who he was and nothing was going to shake him; Not even death.
Isn’t that admirable? Doesn’t that epitomize strength? Doesn’t that embody what it means to have wisdom? The answer is an emphatic and resoundingYES! His time was spent speaking and seeking wisdom and understanding from God, and his wisdom was justified by his actions. Today there are so many people lost in this world because they are searching for understanding in all the wrong places. Proverbs 2:6–8 states, “For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.”
To understand who you are and your purpose you’ve got to seek wisdom from God, the one who created you. He shaped you and molded you with an objective. Your purpose lies within Him, so if you wish to know the intention behind your creation you must ask the Creator. This sojourn we call life is comprised of many journeys. Over time the journeys bring forth wisdom, understanding, and self realization. We were all created uniquely to serve a different purpose, but something we all have in common is we were all created to be a part of the body of Christ and to serve others. So pick up your cross and follow Jesus and come along with me on this journey within a journey!