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Who Am I - Really?

Judas couldn't face his shadow, Peter could...

It's interesting that at the end of a long week - I take a few moments a read another chapter in "Abba's Child" by Brennon Manning and find that when we accept the "truth of what we really are and surrender it to Jesus Christ, we are surrounded by the peace of God and what He truly is for us."

Manning suggests: "The peace that passes understanding is not a subjective sensation of peace; if we are in Christ, we are in peace even when we feel no peace." Peace says that there is freedom from disturbance, but that's not what Christ promises at all. Jesus tells us that even in the midst of trouble - we can have peace. But yet we settle and we fight with our own image of self so much that we miss the "peace" that is found in Christ.

When you and I accept the reality of our sinfulness and brokenness we can only then begin to accept who we truly are. Only then can we find rescue in the shadow of God's wings... (It's interesting to think about shadows... only in a bigger shadow will your shadow disappear... I had to think about that one... it true!)

Having transparency is vital to a healthy spiritual life. When you and I truly look at our own hearts, we then begin to see what we need to see in others. When I focus solely on others and how I interact with their brokenness - I'm miserable! But when I take a moment and see how God sees me - I'm able to see others with the eyes of Jesus. It starts with looking at myself first - not from a "poor me" attitude - but from a position of transparency.

But when I take a step back and look at my own mess - my own life - my own self - I can truly see them as Christ sees them - just like me - broken and in need of a Savior. If I see myself as something that I'm not, then I will always be comparing this "false self" with the perceived reality of those around me. It's only when I can look at my heart and know it's lacking can I really see people as Jesus sees them.

I won't look at their faults, but their potential. I won't see their laziness, but their need for encouragement. I won't see their disobedience, I'll see the opportunity for grace. But it's only when I look at my heart first. I will never see another's full potential if I only live my life from an outward, performance based point of view. If I never take the time to step back and see myself as I truly am - then I will never see people as they truly are - all I will see is the shell of what their circumstances have made them to be.

Manning suggests: "We even refuse to be our true selves with God - and then wonder why we lack intimacy with Him." Shouldn't the deepest desire of our hearts be pursuing God's own heart. Shouldn't the outcome of each day be to see what God sees and feel what God feels. But we don't - we hide... why?

Manning goes on: "With a graciousness and an understanding of human weakness that only God can exhibit, Jesus liberates us from alienation and self-condemnation and offers each of us a new possibility. He is the Savior who saves us from ourselves. His Word is freedom. The Master says to us... You belong to Me, and no one will tear you from My hand - not even yourself!"

Accepting the reality of who we are means that we will accept the reality of our sinfulness and that means that we accept our real, transparent self - this is where real grace shows up. This was something that Judas couldn't do. Judas couldn't face his reality - he was fearful of God's shadow... not knowing that this was the very shadow that would overpower the dark shadow of his own life. Judas didn't want to face his sin. Judas didn't want to take a chance on God's grace - he was overwhelmed.

But Peter, allowed God to restore him. Peter allowed himself to take refuge in God's peace; even taking refuge in a peace that Peter couldn't understand and didn't deserve. When we look at life from a strictly "moral" perspective, we fail to see the humanness of each life. We can't see the whole outlook of life. We feel the pressure to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, help the poor, walk with the addict, save the sinner, love the unloveable, show grace to the proud, forgive those that hurt us, and so on.

We live a never ending dangerous cycle of performance and appearance - we never really know or see who we really are. We are the "dancing chicken" that dances whenever the heat gets turned up - in order for God to "be proud" of us. We perform so that we won't fear who we are. We put on masks to cover up our true self that is hurting so bad to be seen that it's impossible to let others see who we really are - a mess!

Jesus said that whatever you do to the least of these you have done for me... what if today - I'm the "least of these" and I just need to take care of myself for moment!

Here's the bottom line from Manning's own words to himself:

"The bottom line, my pampered playmate, is that you are both needy and selfish. You need care, love and a safe dwelling place. Your days of running riot are history. From now on, you slow down, slow very down. My gift to you is that you are right where you need to be - in the very presence of God." [The one that knows you, created you, cares for you, loves you and wants the very best for you.]

So friends, take a moment this weekend and just spend it quietly with God. Take a look at who you are from His point of view. Take a moment and slow down! Stop trying to perform for those around you - just be you!

Stop trying to make your kids "perfect" - they are kids! Stop trying to be every one else's encourager - it's not on you alone. Stop trying to hide from your lack of self-care and calling it "care for others". Stop trying to be something for everyone - and just be who God created you to be! He knows you! He sees you! Stop performing for the masses and just let God love on you for moment! (Wait - this last paragraph was for me... LOL... take it from one who is trying to walk it... today is a new day!)

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