Sunday, June 17, 2012
Post # 38 - SLOWLY I’M BECOMING WHO I AM
“I’ve heard that a man is not a man until his father tells him so. The surprisingly wonderful thing about my new adventure of listening to Jesus was that God, my Perfect Father, called me out to be the man he’d created me to be. He affirmed me in ways I’d yearned for from my biological father. As I continued in a listening relationship with God, he began to fill in many of the deficits I’d experienced growing up, engaging me in a process of becoming who I was actually designed to be.” (Source: “A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer,” P 24).
For those of us who have come to know Jesus Christ, and are in a listening relationship with Him, we are in the process of becoming who we were created to be. We aren’t who we used to be … even though we fall, stumble, and stray from time-to-time.
In our daily life, we aren’t yet fully who we truly are. Even though God is presenting us faultless before His glory with exceeding joy (see Jude 24 NKJV), we live in a body that is infected with a life-threatening disease: “sin.” At times we seem to be incapable of doing the things that we should (see Romans 7:21-23).
Still, day-by-day we’re being transformed (Greek = metamorphoo) by the inner renewing power of the Holy Spirit who resides in our innermost being (see John 7:38 NASB) We are like a lowly caterpillar who one day is made completely over into a beautiful butterfly. This supernatural transformation takes place from glory to glory as we behold the radiance of God. In actuality, it is God, the Holy Spirit, who accomplishes this miracle (see 2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB).
God undertakes this phenomenon in much the same way that He created all that we see in the genesis of the human race. He speaks to us through His Living Word and, ¡shazam!, day by day He calls us into being truly His! It’s like Ephesians 3:20 in The Message:
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Twila Paris wrote and performed a song a while back called When You Speak to Me. Here are few lines from her song:
When You speak to me,
When I take the time to listen …
… And the heavens open when You speak to me,
Pouring light into my waiting heart …
… When You speak to me,
When You place Your word inside me,
I am filled and I am strong again.
Romans 4:17 in the NASB has a curious phase that captures this creative work: … God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. Day-by-day as we listen, He’s calling into being facets of our design and character that were previously absent or missing. He’s calling you to be all and everything that He planned you for to be. In mind-boggling fashion, He predestined our identity before the foundation of the universe (see Ephesians 1:4).
For those of you who are not yet listening to the Voice of the Shepherd, if you will but take the time to listen, He will meet you and undertake this same astonishing work.
More than thirty-five years ago I was struggling deeply with assurance of salvation and eternal security. Jesus called me out of a life of significant depravity where I was using and dealing drugs on a daily basis. I carried a lot of self-hatred and low self-worth. It had an imprisoning grip on me and didn’t want to let me go. In order to grow in assurance, I memorized John 7:27-29:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand (NKJV).
At the time, I was oblivious to the practical application or implications of My sheep hear My voice. Instead I was focused on no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. Through this passage, together with Romans 11:29 (For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable), Jesus took me to a place of deep assurance.
However, who’d have thought that it would take me another twenty-some years before I’d begin to deliberately listen to the Shepherd’s still, small voice? What can I say? Mas vale tarde que nunca is a phase I learned while we were missionaries in Spain. It’s very applicable when it comes to learning to listen to God. It means better late than never!
One of my favorite Christian recording artists is Kirk Franklin. His honesty and realness is very refreshing. Take a look and listen to one of his more recent songs: I Am.
From the moment we claim the truth of being the Beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are. (Source: Henri Nouwen, The Life of the Beloved).
How about you? Where are you at in your journey? Are you riddled with doubt about your standing with God like I was for most of my first decade in Christ? Do you struggle with self-hatred and low self-worth? Are you engaging in the spiritually transformational discipline of listening to God on a regular basis? Are you meaningfully engaged in the process of becoming? I’d love to hear about your journey.
1. The title of this post comes from a phrase in the song “Clay and Water” by Margaret Becker in her album “Falling Forward,” 1998.