“I won’t really know my identity until I hear the Father tell me who I am to Him, and who He is to me.”

Those are the words I woke up to this morning, whispered in my heart.

All of us who have had our identity rooted in something that can change — our looks, our possessions, our job, our children, our marriage, our ministry — know how devastating it can be when that in which we trust is taken away. The only thing that never changes is God and His love for us. It makes sense that that is the only safe thing to put our identity in.

I thought that I could grasp my identity by studying what the Bible has to say about it. And that is a crucial part — finding out who I have been made to be in Christ. Those truths are so good and so rich, that I would never believe them unless it was written down in the Bible!

But that’s not enough apparently. I have to ask the Father, “Who are you to me?” And then, “Who am I to you?” I have to believe He will speak. I have to listen and accept what He says.

It’s not more information I need at this point. It’s an encounter with the Living God speaking to me personally. That’s what changes my paradigms about myself. That, in turn, will change my future.

Perhaps you would like to experiment with me today. Ask throughout the day: “Father, who are you to me? Who am I to you?” Then listen. Believe that the thoughts that rise up in your heart and that are filled with love are the Father speaking to you personally. Accept what He has to say … and find your true identity.

Don’t Forget to Eat!

During a time when my children were still living at home, an older couple down the street asked us to feed and water their two beloved dogs while they were out of town. I can’t remember the exact sequence of events, but somehow the week that the couple was to be out of town got written down wrong on our calendar.

The neighbors lived beyond another crossing road in our subdivision so that we did not pass their home on our daily excursions. You can imagine how distraught the couple was to come home and find out their dogs had not been cared for during the week. The animals had found some water on their own, but had not been fed for several days and were weak and emaciated. Of course, our family felt horrible and apologized profusely. We were relieved beyond belief when the dogs made a full recovery after some tender loving care by their owners.

You can’t neglect a pet if you want it to be healthy; in a somewhat rough analogy, it’s also true that you can’t leave your faith alone if you want it to thrive. Faith has to be fed and watered to be robust. We hear of people who have “lost their faith,” but it is not so much a case of something missing as much as something that has been neglected. Starvation causes any living thing to wither and and die.

Robust faith requires healthy meals — Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20, NIV)

We spend time with Jesus through taking in God’s word regularly and through talking to Him about whatever is going on in our lives and listening to His responses. It also comes through being in fellowship with other believers who encourage and strengthen us in our faith.

Notice that the responsibility is with us to take the initiative. “If you seek Me you will find Me, if you search for Me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13, NASB).  We may not know how to even begin seeking God, but if we have a desire to find Him, we can admit our ignorance and ask Him to help us.

The good news about our neighbors’ dogs is that they fully recovered their strength. If your faith is weak or has seemingly disappeared, it also can be recovered and made stronger than ever through some tender love care and attention. We would never knowingly leave an animal to fend for itself. Let’s not leave our faith to fend for itself either. Let’s feed and nourish it, and enjoy a vibrant relationship with Jesus.