—by Rik Gervais, Ruling Elder
Coming out of college, beginning my Air Force career, I had one goal: To be as good as my father. My dad, one of many in a long line of military people in our family, had been a colonel, a pilot, and a commander. In my eyes, a big success. So I wanted to be as good as him. Maybe “better” might be nice, but at least as successful.
Twenty-five years later I could say, “I did it!” I, too was a colonel, had been a commander, and was involved in launching space shuttles among many career highlights. But then came the nagging question: “Is that it?” My air force career was over, now what? I had lost my identity.
Upon reflection, I realize I’ve had many “identities” in life: husband, father, grandfather, stockbroker, corporate executive, missionary to name a few. I still have many of them, but others are distant memories. Some I gave up willingly. Some were taken from me by life’s circumstances. Some I desperately cling to and hope never to lose. But, in time, even they will slip away. I’m about to end my seventh decade on this earth… nothing of this earth lasts forever, as we all know.
So what’s the point? I’ve been asking myself lately, “So, who am I?” I told you above who I have been. But if those identities don’t last, then what’s the point?
Thankfully, I have one other identity I haven’t mentioned. It’s the most important: I’m a child of God. John tells us in his gospel: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 (NIV, 1984). How sweet is that?
About twenty years ago, as one of my many identities was being ripped away from me, when my life was on the verge of becoming a total mess, He found me. His Spirit called me. My heart was opened, I heard His call, and trusted in Jesus Christ. By no work of my own, my one true identity was made known to me. Today, I have an identity that NO ONE can ever take from me: I am, in Christ, a child of the Living God. I have a purpose far above any of the wonderful purposes reflected in my earthly identities: To glorify my Father and enjoy Him forever.
So what about you? Mom? Dad? Husband? Wife? Executive? New graduate? Grandparent? Missionary? Lab rat? PhD candidate? Who are you, really? Is that all you really have to look forward to? What happens if one or more of those identities is taken away? Can you say to yourself, “It’s okay. I am and will always be a child of God in Christ Jesus?”
If you aren’t sure…can we talk?