Foundational Truth

“You are still his mom.”

These words were a balm to my aching heart as I struggled to understand exactly what I was grieving about my son’s upcoming out-of-state move. I expected to be sad; change is often hard for me and I have spent every day of the past 20 years investing in him. And I understood the bittersweet happiness of watching his face light up as he counted down the days until his new solo adventure began; he is leaving home to pursue the dreams and goals he has been working toward since he was quite young. But my grief was surprisingly bigger and deeper than I had expected.

I told my husband the strength of my grief must mean this life change was revealing a false belief I held about my identity. Although raising my children was an important job, intellectually I knew it did not define me. While mothering has been a focused, sacrificial, time-intensive effort, it was not the foundation on which my life was built. But somewhere along the line, I unknowingly adopted the belief that being a mom was who I was. My sense of value was threatened when I realized I would no longer be investing in my son face-to-face each day. My husband’s response – you are still his mom – reminded me of an important truth: my role as a mom has changed many times over the years, but my identity has remained the same.

I am thankful that my significance, security, and acceptance – and my experience of far more life — do not come from being a mom. In fact, they are not based on any human relationship or earthly role. Instead they come from Christ and my relationship with Him. One day my roles as wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, ministry leader, employee, and more will come to an end. But I will remain who I am in Christ forever. And while my earthly roles are rewarding for a short time, they are not the foundation of far more life that brings contentment and joy for eternity.

Dr. Neil T. Anderson pulled together a list of Biblical descriptions of our identity in Christ. They provide a wonderful reminder of what is unchanging and valuable about each of God’s children. These are our defining characteristics, what truly give us significance, security and acceptance. Even if everything else is stripped away from our lives, these foundational truths remain intact. Read through the list slowly, letting the importance of each statement about your identity sink in.

  • I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
  • I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:15)
  • I have been justified. (Romans 5:1)
  • I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit. (I Corinthians 6:17)
  • I have been bought with a price; I belong to God. (I Corinthians 6:20)
  • I am a member of Christ’s body. (I Corinthians 12:27)
  • I am a saint. (Ephesians 1:1)
  • I have been adopted as God’s child. (Ephesians 1:5)
  • I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)
  • I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Colossians 1:14)
  • I am complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
  • I am free forever from condemnation. (Romans 8:1-2)
  • I am assured that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)
  • I am free from any condemning charges against me. (Romans 8:33-34)
  • I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35)
  • I have been established, anointed and sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21)
  • I am hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
  • I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected. (Philippians 1:6)
  • I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
  • I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • I can find grace and mercy in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
  • I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me. (I John 5:18)
  • I am the salt and light of the earth. (Matthew 5:13-14)
  • I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life. (John 15:1, 5)
  • I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. (John 15:16)
  • I am a personal witness of Christ’s. (Acts 1:8)
  • I am God’s temple. (I Corinthians 3:16)
  • I am a minister of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
  • I am God’s coworker. (2 Corinthians 6:1)
  • I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm. (Ephesians 2:6)
  • I am God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

I am thankful for these reminders of the identity God has given me in Christ. I will probably need to revisit them again next week when my daughter moves out of the house. I do not know what false beliefs that change will reveal, but I am thankful God’s truth is reliable and unchanging! He is the only foundation on which we can build far more life.

Sisters,
What has challenged your sense of identity?
Where, besides Christ, have you looked for significance, security, and acceptance?
As you read the list of truths, which were most meaningful? For any that were hard to believe or accept, what do you believe instead? Consider talking to God about the differences and working to discover the barriers that keep you from readily accepting His truth.
Thank God for being the stable foundation on which you build far more life!
-Shari

Far More Confidence

As a newlywed I did not want to bother my husband by asking for help with chores we had agreed I would complete. One Saturday it became obvious that I couldn’t get everything done on my long list before company arrived. And I started to stress. Finally, I broke down and asked if he would be able to help with a few tasks. He was surprised to see my level of distress and gladly pitched in, doing what I asked and even offering to do more. Later he gently asked why I waited so long to ask for help. His response to my explanation has stuck with me over the years: “I am always going to be busy doing something. But helping you was more important than what I was doing. You are always free to ask for my help, even if I look busy.”

Asking for help can be hard and uncomfortable. Sometimes we are afraid of rejection. Other times we prefer to avoid the disappointment of hearing “no”. For me, it is often hardest to ask for help when I feel insecure. Will the person respond with annoyance? Ridicule? Or worse, ignore me? It feels dangerous to make myself vulnerable to someone who might minimize, judge, or criticize my request. So I hesitate, trying to decide whether, how, and when I should ask. I forfeit the peace and joy of far more life at those times.

Sometimes we are hesitant to ask God for help for many of the same. Fortunately, the Bible addresses our insecurity:

Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. (Hebrews 4:15-16, GNT)

The High Priest held a significant role in the Jewish community. When questions arose, He took them to God and communicated His will to the people. He also went before God once a year to make a sacrifice for the people’s sins, to attain God’s forgiveness and favor. Jesus serves as our High Priest. The passage encourages us to boldly ask God for help, being confident that we will receive mercy and find grace from Him. But the verses go a step further by explaining WHY we should have confidence, WHY it is safe to approach God: because Jesus can relate to us. He has been in our shoes. He has faced temptation and experienced the challenges we face. And while He never sinned, He knows we will sometimes fall short. Since He is never surprised by this, it is always safe to ask for His help.

We experience far more life when we know God well enough to approach Him confidently at any time. He is our Daddy who is always ready to listen. He will take all of our requests seriously, never laughing at our weakness or lack of understanding. And He always knows exactly what help we need, even when we are uncertain. Far more life feels safe in approaching Him and trusts Him to respond well.

God’s help is always what we need but He does not always give the answer we expect. In His wisdom, He can see what is best for us — and His kingdom — in the long run. Sometimes it is best for Him to change the situation we are facing, which is usually what we want. But often His answer is to give us the opportunity to change to be more like Him. His most merciful and gracious answer may be encouragement to persevere. Or a reminder to forgive. It could challenge us to adopt an eternal perspective. Or to point out where we have missed His way. His answer often grows us to better reflect His character in our difficulties: love; joy; peace; patience; and other qualities of His Spirit. His answer to our requests leads us to far more life in both the current and future difficulties. These verses reveal His long-term goals for us:

…We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4, NIV)

And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6, GNT)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. (I John 4:18, NIV)

Once we have accepted Jesus’ offer to take the punishment for our sins, we know that God will never punish us. We have no reason to be afraid of Him. We have every reason to love Him and believe that He loves us perfectly. We can always approach Him with confidence, regardless of our circumstances. We can expect Him to respond to every request with mercy and grace. We can trust Him to give us only the best answer every time we ask for His help.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11, NIV)

Because of His goodness, we can confidently ask Him for help and expectantly look for the good — and far more life — in each of His answers.

Sisters,
What makes it hard for you to ask others for help?
What kind of reaction do you expect from God when you ask for help? (annoyed, critical, apathetic, kind, compassionate, etc.)
What prevents you from approaching God confidently?
What helps you accept His answer when it is not what you expected?
Ask Him to help you see the help He offers is best and grow your confidence — and far more life.
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso