Thursday, January 30, 2020

That Is Who I Am

“Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who You are”

We sang this song in our midweek meeting last night. It’s a reminder of just who God is. Sometimes we forget, or we add something or take something away or dilute something. We end up with a picture of God that isn’t the real thing.

I shared a poem I wrote years ago based on question 4 from the shorter catechism. If we don’t know God or know the promises He makes in His word, we never grasp and lay hold of them and we fall short of accomplishing all that God has asked us to do.

Knowing God and His word is only half of the equation. We also have to know ourselves. I pictured the disciples with Jesus as He asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They threw out a few suggestions until Peter revealed the answer God’s Spirit revealed to him.

“But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29)

Last night I pictured a different direction for the conversation. In my version Jesus doesn’t go on to talk about His death or rebuke Peter. This is what happens next in my version…

“That’s me sorted, then,” said Jesus, “My identity is settled…but what about you? Who do you say you are?”

Over the last few weeks I have been watching a TV series called “Cobra”. I like Robert Carlyle. I liked him as Hamish McBeth, the policeman in the fictitious town of Lochdubh on the west coast of Scotland. In Cobra he stars as Prime Minister Robert Sutherland, leading the nation through a crisis. The sun emits a solar flare that causes a geomagnetic storm. The electricity grid is overloaded, planes crash as their navigation systems stop working and the lights go off.

None of the politicians that make up the Cobra team are squeaky-clean, but that’s nothing we didn’t already know. What really alarmed me was how quickly the nation descended into anarchy. Decisions were made of which bit of the country to sort out first and which to leave for later. No guesses that south of Watford gets their lights back on swiftly. Northumberland is on the waiting list.

There was no Dunkirk spirit. There were no stiff upper lips. Not fortitude at all. Robert Carlyle promised to get the lights back on and they were cheering for barely one episode before protestors erected barriers and demands were made for the hospital to hand over its fuel supplies. Lorries with bottled water were hijacked. I thought, at this point, people should have been unblocking wells or something, or sending dowsers out to find hidden springs. I talked it over with a taxi- driver and he agreed. Bottled water? The taxi-driver scorned the need for bottled water in a country like ours.

The programme got to be a hard watch. The politicians I expected to be making secret deals and garnering stuff to blackmail Robert Carlyle with. But the population in general? I did not expect such a quick capitulation to their baser natures. It made me wonder how thick, or thin, the veneer is that keeps us from letting the lizard brain take over. It seemed as if grievances were so close to the surface of the skin that all it took was a scratch for the vileness to pour out. Are we really that bad?

“Who do I say I am?” I am not them. I am not the conspirator trying to bring down the prime minister. I am not the whisperer sowing dissent and division. I am not the builder of barriers or the man who makes threats to get his way. I am not them. I know this. My grievances have been forgiven and there’s nothing just under the skin waiting to leak out.

God took hold of me when, yes, maybe, I was one of them. But He has worked on me and with me and through me to transform me. I’m not done with being transformed yet. But…

I am one of His now. That is who I am.

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