Growing up the youngest of 5 I was bound and determined to find my own identity. When you say the name Wildman in the town of Warsaw Indiana (or the neighboring town of Winona Lake), people will instantly speak of the family business: Wildman Business Group. In high school I was compared to my family constantly: academically, in sports, how I behaved, etc. There wasn't a situation: new class, sports team, or job that I worked at that when they learned of my last name they would instantly say: "I knew your (insert family member name here)." So naturally I decided that I was going to break the mold and become my own version of the Wildman name.
The problem with operating outside the Wildman name was that I was seeking to prove people wrong. I didn't need to be the scholarly student (although I was the only one to graduate college with honors), play the sports my previous family members played, or uphold the honor of the Wildman name. The minute I decided to step outside the Wildman name the world was waiting to make an example out of me and do their best to destroy the Wildman name.
Now I'm not saying I did anything wrong when I set out to make my own Wildman name, but I'm using this as an example to show that the Wildman name is a help not a hinderance. Although, at the time, I viewed the name as a hinderance. I saw it as rules I had to follow, standards I had to live up to, achievements I had to surpass, but what I needed to see was the Wildman name as a help, a foot in the door, people that had paved the way for me to exceed and go beyond what they had done.
When we receive His redemption we tend to do the same thing as I did with the Wildman name - we want to take His grace, love, and salvation and put our own identity on His story. Paul David Tripp says it best in his book: Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands:
"Our deepest problem is that we seek to find our identity outside the story of redemption."
God didn’t come here to ask us to help us with His plan. He came to save us from ourselves. He came so that we will see all that He has done for us and in turn we will do everything to bring Him glory and further His kingdom. He’s not looking for a new identity. He’s looking for us!
James 5:9-12 gives us guidance to keep on track with living within His redemption:
9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
Paul David Tripp sums this all up:
"Lasting change begins when our identity, purpose, and sense of direction are defined by God's story."
Don't be ashamed of God's story and plan for your life. He has great things planned for all of us. Use the principles and commands of the scripture as God intended. Don't use them in the same way that I tried to reinvent the Wildman name - seeking an identity outside of the family. Use God's Word as He intended it to be used... for His glory and for His kingdom.
The challenge this week is for all of us to not pray for God to change our situation, but pray that God will use us in our current situation to bring glory to Him!
Thanks and God Bless!
The view from the top of a climb in Tegucigalpa Honduras. PC (Photo Cred) Matthew Allen