So this last one isn't just from my time at Echo. My senior pastor at Severn Run, Drew Shofner, recently preached a similar message which I would love to link to, but that week Satan ate our technology so there is no recording of it. When Drew preached this message, he put it in the light of a family context which isn't something I can fully relate to yet. Sure, I'm a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, grand-daugther, and wife but I'm not a mother and I'm not really planning on being one for a while so there was a whole aspect of that message lost on me in that regard because my brain is not even close to thinking in that way. However, Matt Chandler closed out Echo 13 with almost the exact same message, but geared right at me and all the other artists, geeks and storytellers in the room. Matt started out this session with Galatians 3, telling us that this should be the anchor of our identity in Christ. Basically this chapter starts off calling the Galatian people fools and as you keep reading you find out that Paul is calling them fools because they saw Jesus die and rise again for their sins and all of a sudden they are acting like they have to finish out the task with their own hands and feet. Fools.
Personally, a lot of my childhood I spent a lot of time thinking that I had to do something in ministry or I wasn't doing my salvation justice. When I was young and stupid, I thought my only chance for doing that was by either being the piano or organ lady, or by marrying a pastor (thanks early ingrained sexism in the modern church), and it turned out that I was really bad at piano. There it is, from an early age I felt like I needed to be doing something worthy to round out my salvation. Why? I can look back now and know that those silly thoughts were probably just the early whispers of God's call on my life to actually do ministry, but not because I needed to in order to round out my faith, but rather because he wanted me to and designed me to in his plan. Until recently, I've lived in this reality of thinking I need to be rounding out my salvation for some reason until this truth bomb was dropped right on my face:
"The only place you should be finding joy (and your identity) is in what God says about you not where you think you should be applauded!"
Whaaat? Blew me away. And what is it that God says about us? "You are my child," that's it. He saved us when we were dirty, grubby, dumb kids because we are already his and he loves us desperately. There's no and in what God says about us. He doesn't say, "You are my child and the number one graphic designer! Good luck with that, Bonni, because if you aren't creating stellar graphics for churches all the time, then you aren't fulfilling half of what I made you to be." No, we are solely his children saved at our worst so why do we think we should find joy and identity in doing at all? Another cool thing that Matt said to drive this home was along the lines of "When God saved you, was it when you were doing awesome and Jesus said 'Now I want you on my team!'? No! It was when you were at your worst that he picked you!"
My full identity is child of God. Your full identity is child of God. Our identities are wrapped up only in being his child and have nothing to do with doing anything at all. I think especially in American culture we wrap our our doing and our being in a sloppy package and put way too much weight on that belief. "Hi, I'm Bonni, I am a Graphic Designer." Wrong! I do graphic design, I am a child of God. When I wrap my identity around my actions, life is inconsistent and scary; when I am wrapped in being a child of God things are constant. Watch:
When I am doing awesome at my job - I am a child of God. When the Severn Run Facebook page sees a huge spike in likes because of an awesome ad campaign - I am a child of God. When my husband is full and happy because I've cooked an excellent plate of deliciousness - I am a child of God. When I am tired, and I only put half of my effort into my work for the day - I am a child of God. When I fail miserably and cost my clients hundreds of dollars - I am a child of God. When Bessie the MacPro goes kaput - I am a child of God.
When my doing or external happenings do something to me, there is always a consistency because my being rests solely in the hands of God. I am not shaken because I am a child of God, always. My Father delights in me, and has delighted in me when I was at my best and at my worst. My world is secure in that truth.
"Lean heavily into God's delight in you." - Matt Chandler