Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Firstborn

Last week I was reading two unrelated devotionals: The Disappearance of God by R. Albert Mohler and Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite (I reviewed both last week). The focus of each book was completely different from the other, and yet in my reading I came across the same passage from Scripture in both in one night. When that happens, I pay attention because I suspect that God has a message for me. Really, what are the odds of me coming across the exact same passage in two so very different books on the same night? You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God's own people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God's mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

I read through the verse a few times and wrote it in my journal. Then I made it personal: I am a chosen person. I am a royal priest, God's very own possession. As a result, I can show others the goodness of God, for he called me out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once I had no identity; now I am God's own. Once I received no mercy; now I have received God's mercy. Even after multiple readings, I still wasn't sure what God wanted me to do with the verse, so I tucked it into the back of my mind in hopes of future revelation.

Last night, the Lord shed more light on the verse for me. I'm reading Neb Hayden's When the Good News Gets Even Better. It's a study of Jesus' life going through the Gospels chronologically and has an amazing amount of fascinating tidbits about Jewish life in the first century. The lesson last night was focused on my identity in God.

Who am I really? If you read my profile on various social sites, I'm a happily married mother of three, and when I'm introduced to someone, that tends to be my initial response. If the new acquaintance asks for more, I offer that I'm the Pastoral Care Coordinator at the local hospital, and I love my job. Dig a little deeper, and I'll talk about my blogging and book reviewing. Those are the identities I tend to use the most: wife of Jesse, mother of Doogie, Molly, and Mia, employee of Community Memorial Hospital, writer of Christy's Book Blog. After a few more minutes of talk, I may offer the fact that I want to be a published author. I've been working on my first novel for almost five years. Do any of those tell you who I really am? Do they tell you anything about who God wants me to be?

An exercise in Hayden's book gave me some new identities:

I am a friend of Jesus Christy John 15:15
I have been made complete through Christ. Colossians 2:10
I am holy for all time. Hebrews 10:14
I am loved by God and without fault in His eyes. Ephesians 1:4
I am totally forgiven. Colossians 2:13
I am precious in His sight. Isaiah 43:4
I am a faithful follower of Christ Jesus. Ephesians 1:1
I am a saint. 1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Corinthians 1:1 and many more

So how do you think that would go over the next time I meet someone.
"Hi, I'm Christy, and I'm a saint. "
"Err... that's nice. So what do you do?"
"I'm a faithful follower of Christ Jesus."
"Jesus huh. How's that going?"
"I have been made complete through Him, and He's my friend."

Would you think I'm crazy? How fast would you be beating a retreat to the nearest exit? I don't think I could ever do that, mostly because it feels so unhumble, especially the saint part. But Wilhite has something to say about that: Here's a statement that may shock you: It doesn't matter if you feel like a saint or even act like a saint. As a follower of Jesus, you already are one. It is part of your new identity. Hayden says this: It's true that we were sinners before we met Jesus and we were also saved by grace but as a "new creation" we no longer can be defined by what we were even though we still commit sin. Why? Because sins are what you do, not who you are.Who you are is a saint who sometimes messes up.

I made myself write out the promises of who I am in my journal, because the act of writing makes things more real for me. If I write it, I remember it, and I never want to forget these beautiful truths. I love what Hayden said: Sins are what you do, not who you are. I'm going to work on redefining myself in the identity that the Lord has given me, rather than the ones that I've given myself or society would give me. I am a new creation and precious in His sight! Try saying them out loud to yourself and find the one that sticks in your throat; that's the one you need to hear the most!

The Firstborn
by Conlan Brown is what appears to be the first in a series of gifted individuals trying to do God's will here on earth. Devin Bathurst is a member of the Domani, one of three groups who view the world in a unique way. The Domani can see the future, the Ora the present, and the Prima the past. Devin races against time to rescue a young woman who has been kidnapped. Once she's safe, he discovers that the woman, Hannah Rice, is the granddaughter of the patriarch of the Prima. The two of them are soon on their way to a meeting of the three sects who normally never intermingle, but threats from the outside are causing some of them to want an Overseer to be in charge of all three groups. Devin, Hannah, along with rogue Ora John Temple are pressed hard to stop several terrorist plots while trying to figure out who is their enemy and who is a friend. I had a hard time at first getting into this debut novel. There are a few places that would have been served by a bit more polish, but once the action started, I literally could not turn the pages fast enough! Brown provides a great deal of insight into the point of view of each of the three groups, and those perceptions transfer to reality as well. Those who are focused on the future tend not to worry as much about immediate needs. Present minded people tend to live for the moment without worrying about consequences, and those living in the past can become depressed and apathetic. The action is brutal and well-written. I could see it all playing out in front of me. The characters are interesting and definitely worth following into future entries in the series.

I took Molly and Mia to the beach today to meet Doogie and Bre. It was over 100 degrees with the heat index! I had brought Mia to the library first for story hour, but it was held outside, and she almost passed out from the heat, so we cut that short and headed for the water!

Don't forget to drop me an email to sign up to win a copy of The Vanishing Sculptor! You have until 10 pm on Thursday, June 25th.