Have you ever experienced well meaning people tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your life, or in your business, in your ministry or raising your kids? I hear it all the time, about different areas of my life, coming from different places – the pulpit, church leadership, church family, friends, family and even from the world…
Ephesians 4 talks about maturity and unity in the body of Christ. The chapter starts with “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”, and then in verse 14 is says “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
Part of our maturing process not only knowing our individual identity, but also the revelation of our giftings and purpose for our individual walk with Christ, and then how those work together in unity with the body of Christ.
When we don’t know [believe] our identity, then we are like a boat being tossed around in the storm, because we have no anchor to hold us down. A gust of wind [distractions/ circumstances] can blow us completely off course, and if we aren’t intentional about our walk, when we are knocked off course, or listen to the opinions of others, it is very easy for us to walk down a path that is not ours to walk down or take on burdens that are not ours to carry.
God has been very graciously revealing my identity to me over many, many years. For so long I was like that boat, drifting and being tossed back and forth in the waves. I struggled with who I was, what I had been through, and who I should be. God was restoring my identity, but my personality and the way I ticked didn’t quite match up to what I experienced with one of my main giftings.
To add to this, we have had so much stripped away from us in the last 2 years. It has been a true test of my faith and my trust in God’s word and his promises. We had several people give us words that God will bless us with something much greater and on a larger scale than what we were losing – but it still hasn’t happened.
Through this time, we have also had people speaking things over us that I started believing. My faith started wavering and I started to allow the lies to take root in my heart. Where everything that I knew was being questioned, and I started doubting whether I had heard from God. Surely what people were saying was right, that we must have done something to bring this upon ourselves, that God was punishing us for pride or disobedience, or because we were careless or irresponsible. I struggled with my own expectations of what I should be, and that I wasn’t good enough.
But God is so good to us!
As I started questioning God, he was reminding me of the words he had given me in my private time with him, the confirmation of the decisions we had made, and was even revealing some attitudes and beliefs of those around us who were projecting their own identity issues onto us. There has been so much maturing happening… I like to call it character development.
There is so much that I could be missing out on if I lived my life according to what others think I should be doing, but I would not be effective, and I would not be sharp. I would be hollow inside and probably would have walked away from everything – but through submission to God and allowing him to show me what he is doing in our lives, he has revealed that this was a necessary season for us to walk through for our current journey in ministry.
I love the message version of Ephesians 4:14-16 “No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.”
Through choosing to be anchored in faith to my heavenly Father, he has shown me again and again that he is the one who is sustaining us in a time where it seems impossible - he has made it possible. Where things look hopeless, he is our hope. He is the one to put our trust in, for everything is in his timing and according to his plan (and not my own!). I have come to a place of leaning on my heavenly Father, resting in his peace knowing that whatever happens, he is my shield and my salvation. He is the one that I trust and I know that I am precious to him and that he has good plans for me.
Isn’t it amazing that when we know and believe our identity as children of God, daughters of the risen King, we can go straight to the source when we are troubled or need answers for our situations – that we don’t need to be swayed by the opinions of others or our circumstances, we are no longer tossed back and forward but anchored to our heavenly Father.