Faith Identity

Identity-Figuring Out Who I Am!

If you are in your warrior-stage of life (18-30) and think that once you hit some magical older age, you are going to put this identity struggle behind you once for all, think again!  I’m not trying to burst your bubble, but to dispell a possible misconception you might have that once you get to a certain point in your earthly journey of manhood you finally arrive! Newsflash!  As long as you are breathing on planet Earth, God is at work shaping you into the man He’s created you to become. That, my friend, is the awesomely good news of the Gospel! God is NOT done with you, regardless of your age!

When it comes to your identity, so much of what you see God doing (or not), in your later years of life, has a lot to do with how you work through manhood identity issues in your warrior years. Society, our peers, family, even our own sinful bent can adversely skew our view of ourselves. But have you ever considered what God thinks of you? I’m not talking Oh Johnny, you are such a good boy! You never do anything wrong and my every desire is to give you another cupcake!  Rather, God seeing and calling you out of your inverted, self-focused, navel-gazing identity to one of supernatural, forward-thinking, others-focused identity. In other words, discovering your Unique Kingdom Voice, becoming the man you were called to be. 

Listen to David

Psalm 139 is a fantastic passage that sees the psalmist David speaking to God about his own manhood identity. Whenever I hit a low spot in my identity, I turn to this psalm.

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

You discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. Psalm 139: 1-4 ESV

It gets better!

You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it. Psalm 139:5-6 ESV

It’s All about the Hand

This part of the psalm re-centers my identity with a vivid picture of God’s nearness and affirmation.  When it says God hems you in, behind and before, picture yourself on a hike in the woods. In southeast Kansas, there is a wooded national recreation trail. No amenities. Mountain lions are known to be in the area. I’ve seen evidence of them; paw prints, scat. One time three of us hiked that trail in the dark. We walked carefully with our headlamps as the only light of the night. God is like the ultimate protector. He goes before you on the confusing, dark trail. He also has your back. Not only that but He lays his hand on you. Think of someone you look up to. Possibly your father, an older man you trust. Someone you know who has your best interest in mind. When that person puts his hand on your shoulder, it brings comfort, affirmation, nearness. God is placing His hand on your shoulder. He has you!

There is nothing about you that God doesn’t already know. In fact, He sees every strength, every flaw, every doubt, and nothing causes Him to hesitate towards drawing near to you. Even before I say my next word, or write this next sentence, God already knows.  The God of the Universe knows you by name. Let that truth soak into your soul for a moment before you read on.

Intricately Made

When I had my quadruple heart bypass surgery, I learned much about the complexities of the human body. Our son is in medical school and he frequently enlightens us on the amazing bodies God’s given us.

For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14 ESV

You are NOT an accident. Perhaps your birth was via illegitimate means, but that does NOT negate the dignity and reason for your existence. Later, in the New Testament, when God says He bought your body with the price of His Son, Jesus, it means that EVERYTHING you do with your body, from grooming to diet, to how you handle your sexuality, is to be a reflection of a life lived unto Him.

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

You might look in the mirror and not like everything you see. You might want a nose job or a reshaped chin. I’d like to grow a thicker beard. You might also look in the mirror and think you are God’s gift to women! Truth is you are who you are and there is NO ONE else on the planet exactly like you; even if you have a twin.

More than the Grains of Sand on the Earth

Now try wrapping your head around this one!

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

I awake, and I am still with you. Psalm 139: 17-18 ESV

According to the Internet “if you assume a grain of sand has an average size and you calculate how many grains are in a teaspoon and then multiply by all the beaches and deserts in the world, the Earth has roughly (and we’re speaking very roughly here) 7.5 x 1018 grains of sand, or seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains.”

How many zeros?  1018! 7,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,0000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

It’s this idea that God NEVER stops thinking about you!  NEVER! And His every thought towards you is good. For your good. For your salvation. For your sanctification. For your holiness. For your manhood. Even if His words toward you are filled with discipline, He is doing such out of His unfailing love for you.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

    and chastises every son whom he receives. Hebrews 12:6 ESV

That leads me to a place where I want to let God in. I want my life to be centered in Him so that I take on increasingly His view of me.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!

    Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me,

    and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139: 23-24 ESV

Shifting Identities

I’ve done some stupid things in my life. Regrets. Shame. You have them too. Things you do NOT WANT anyone to know about, especially God. Everyone will think you are a failure. Truth is, if you ask God to search your heart and to try and know your thoughts, that process may not be the most pleasant, but the outcome will be far better than if you continue in your own view of yourself.

When my Mentoring Warriors book came out, I found myself praying Psalm 139:23-24. Suddenly, I was hit with a lot of destructive thoughts. Seeds Satan planted in my soul.  Things like Your book is trash, David. No one is going to read it. The two-plus years you spent writing it was a waste. In fact, the way you exposed your own failures in that book will make you the laughingstock of the author’s world.  That went on for two weeks. I spiraled down into a level of a deep level of discouragement. What was different this time, was I recognized the lies of Satan. I chose to let God use those lies to point out the truth of who I am in Him. A spiritual battle ensued as I saw Satan wanting to cause me to regress, while God was in Christ, showing me the more everlasting way. In fact, all of those lies of Satan have been debunked. Every one of them! The book is impacting men for Christ. In fact, my transparency in the book has become a model for other men to do the same. 

Identity is core to your existence. Who is your identity?  Yourself or Christ?

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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