"Remember who you are," her mother's words ran after her everytime she left the houe. Brilliant. A simple seed planted in the comfort and safety of home; a tiny germ that will, when worn down with time and nourished with God's light and living water, transform into a new creation. Remember who you are. The words slap your soul like the proverbial screen door, demanding that you acknowledge the threshold beneath your feet. I love how it resonates inside, reverberating in the interior being, begging the question: Who am I? Repeated often enough, the words fall away and the memory returns, reminding us of our true identity.
"But who do you say that I am?", Jesus asks his disciples...
It is Simon, on the cusp of becoming Peter, who acknowledges the mystery: The Son of Man is the Son of God! This always baffled me as a child. Which is it? Make up your mind. Is he the Son of Man or the Son of God, why do they refer to him as both? I can almost imagine the look of surprise on Peter's face as the truth of this mystery emerges from somewhere deep inside him, a truth so big it could never be contained or explained. The son of man IS the Son of God.
Startled at his own admission, Simon must have stood dumbstruck in the face of the mystery of the incarnation; the paradox of an infinite, ineffable God facing him in human flesh. Talk about a life defining moment. What are we to do when faced with accepting the incredible (aka - the not believable)? Believe! That's what makes it faith, and it necessitates surrender. "You are the messiah," Simon says, his shoulders folding in on themselves as he is grounded in humility. I don't understand, I couldn't possibly. And I don't need to. You are the Lord. Of my life, of all that is, was and will ever be.
I can imagine the smile creeping across Jesus' face as he humbly accepts this universe shattering confession, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah." The words must have gripped Simon's drooping shoulders forcing him to look Jesus in the eyes. Can you imagine?! Like a cosmic game of hide-and-seek, Simon says, "I see you Jesus, I know who you are and where you come from", and in return God replies to his child, "I see you too and I know where you come from." What must it be like to see God smile?...
But it is what happens next that really excites me. "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." Stand up straight, Simon, I've got a job for you. You are a new creation. You are Peter and I have plans for you. I will help you accomplish them and NOTHING can prevent my plans for you from being fulfilled. Rest in that.
It's so comforting. We contain everything we need to become who God created us to be. All we need to do is open our minds and our hearts to accept the unbelievable. There is a plan, a purpose, and it will be accomplished come hell or highwater. I am not responsible for creating the plan or even for seeing it to fruition; my job is to follow--to listen and obey. And when, inevitably, I mess up, He will make it good. This is the steadfast faith, the irrepressible joy and the incomprehensible peace that we, as Christians are called to bring to life in the world. Life. Is. Very. Good.
- Please pray for our youth as they navigate the brackish waters between where they are and where they are called to be. May they walk on water! Especially the Class of 2015 and those students participating in this weekend's Discovery Retreat...
- We cannot know who we are until we know the one who created us (have you ever tried to assemble something very complex without following the manufacturer's directions?! ) It is in and through a personal relationship with God (translation: Jesus) that we begin to understand who we are. Take time daily in worship and prayer to surrender to something grander than you and your plans (Oh what a relief it is!) Warning: If this step is foregone, you will eventually find yourself in a proverbial pile of unassembled parts on the livingroom floor.
- Cliff notes to Remembering Who You Are: You are the servant, not the savior. You are His. And you are loved. Unconditionally.