I grew up in a Christian home and attended church regularly, trusting in Jesus to save me from my sins at an early age. However throughout life, I have battled with putting my significance and worth in things apart from Jesus…whether trying to make the best grades in school, or doing well as a track and field athlete, I struggled with my identity in Christ and glorifying Him, versus trying to work to earn His favor and the favor of those around me.
It can be very difficult to put all of your hopes and energy into something, only to have those hopes dashed, because things don’t turn out as planned. I was a cross country and track athlete in high school and college, and I put in a lot hard work, effort, and time to be a stronger and better runner. For me, college included a lot of running, training, and schoolwork, with little time for much else. Then, at the beginning of my senior year in college, when I felt like I was in the best shape of my life, an injury put me out for the year. This is just one example where the Lord used something that left me feeling hopeless and alone, to draw me closer to Him. He worked in my heart, allowing me to understand that while running is great, knowing and loving Him and being close to Him is the best thing. Through Christian friends, studying God’s Word, and being in a solid church, I found joy again after the physical brokenness and mental devastation caused by putting my identity and hope into something other than Jesus.
After graduate school, I spent 18 months serving as a missionary and nutrition program officer for a Christian missions organization in rural Western Uganda. I had been through the mission’s extensive Bible study on Sonship and had learned about God’s active role in my life to constantly draw me closer to Him. Yet I still put a lot of hope and identity in creating and implementing successful nutrition programs. For example, we raised money and built a chicken coop and put several chickens in to lay eggs to provide to malnourished children and their families. A month after we put the first flock into the coop, two thirds of our flock died of a disease (coccidiosis). Once again, my hopes were dashed and I realized I had been putting all my eggs in one basket (so to speak) and forgetting that my true identity is not based upon my ability to successfully implement nutrition programs, but it is based on who God says I am because of Christ— I am a daughter loved by Him and I don’t have to perform to win His love.
I’m thankful that He keeps working on my heart to remind me that it’s not about my performance, achievement, material goods or possessions, but about knowing and loving Him and being found in Him, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Phil 3:9) I’m thankful that each day, I can rest in Him, knowing that Jesus has completed all the work of salvation!
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