Understanding Identity. Day eleven...
My dad was a farmer and had a whole lot more equipment than I did when I was getting started with my own family. So whenever I needed to repair something, I just made a trip out to the farm.
At that time the typical farmer's shop had a welder, cutting torch, drill press, band saw, dry cut saw, and other hand tools for repairing his machinery. And usually a farmer would have some woodworking tools as well. Because I'd learned how to use all this equipment, I didn't normally need Dad's help.
But I did need help finding things. “Oh, it's around here somewhere,” he would say. Dad's shop was generally a mess, usually with everything left over from his last project still scattered about on the floor and the work benches. Being a bit more organized than he was, I made an effort to put stuff back where it was supposed to go (not just where I found it).
When I didn't know where something belonged I would ask Dad, and his answer would invariably be: “Oh, just leave it ‘lay’ and I'll put it away later. Come on in the house and we'll have a bowl of ice cream.” The trouble was… the next time I came out to the farm it still “lay” where I'd left it.
I would look at Dad's shop and wonder why he put up with such a mess. It's as if he just got so used to it that he never considered it could be any different.
We get so used to our assumed identity that we never consider it could be any different.
Day after day after day, we just put up with an identity God had nothing to do with. And we ignore the identity He has prepared for us to live out in everyday life.
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. (John 5:1–4 NKJV)
Think of this as a very large waiting room filled with folks needing to get in to see the doctor. But the number of people needing help greatly exceeds the capacity of the staff. So at some point during the day (alternately the week, the month, or the year) the receptionist sets out a bowl of appointment times that can be grabbed on a first‐come‐first‐serve basis. Because there are more people than appointments, the feeblest miss out.
One of the men lying there had been sick for
years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he
asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
“I can't, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” (John 5:5–7 NLT)
What was this man's assumed identity?
His assumed identity was: “I can't get well, sir.” For thirty‐eight years he “believed” he was a man who could not get well. For thirty‐eight years he “acted” like a man who could not get well. If he'd ever made any sincere effort to get to the pool in time to be healed, he'd long since stopped.
Notice that the sick man did not answer Jesus' question with a “yes” or a “no.” He answered with an excuse. As I said a few days ago, the part of your human existence which is controlling you will excuse you. In other words, whatever is excusing you from participating in life is controlling you.
The sick man was controlled by the excuse that he couldn't get well. He identified so strongly with his sickness that he couldn't even consider any other possibility. So Jesus, in His mercy, pierced this assumed identity and brought the sick man's true identity to life—literally. Jesus literally burned through excuse and spoke to the man He had created, and not to the man influenced by thirty‐eight years of sickness.
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” (John 5:8 ESV)
The word translated “get up” or “rise” means more than moving from a position on the ground to an upright position. For one who is “down” with disease and lying sick, this kind of rising up will cause him to recover. The word translated “take up” means to take upon oneself what has been raised, and carry it. To walk is to “go.”
And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. (John 5:9 KJV)
When Jesus' words met with the man's obedience the infirmity had to leave.
When Jesus' words meets with our obedience, our old identity has to leave.
I encourage you today to read the Word intentionally looking for your true identity in Christ. When you see an identity that reminds you of who you want to be, take it as your own. And meet God with your obedience. Then watch and see the goodness of God bring your new life to reality.
Have a good day,