I believe we have a primary identity, and if we are not first and foremost this primary identity, everything else in our lives goes askew. Even good works and giftings we use for God will be infinitely less than they should be.
First let me paint a picture.
A father has two children. One is “introverted" and delights in reading poetry, the other loves playing sports. Being the perfect father, he pays close attention to each of them...so he knows that for their birthdays, he’s going to give the book-worm a 100 year old first edition volume of Shakespeare, and the athlete he’s going to give the latest, most coveted pair of Air Jordan’s. (Not the blue ones like everyone else…but the red ones, because that’s her favorite color.)
The day comes and he presents the gifts. Both of the kids are ecstatic. They are thrilled- obsessed even- with these perfect treasures that are so fine-tuned to them…so suited to their unique desires and personality.
With screams of delight and quick but heartfelt “Thanks dad!” The book worm rushes off to enjoy her book. But after the athlete tries on the shoes and tests them out with a few jumps and jukes...she stops.
She thinks about the fact that they’re red..not blue.
About how they’re exactly what she wanted, and even betterthan she hoped for.
Then she thinks about the type of person that would put that much thought into such a gift- paying attention to every detail of her life so perfectly that he knew not only what to get her, but how to present it to her (he knew she liked jokes, and gave her a pair of ratty sneakers first.)
Slowly she takes the shoes off, sets them aside, and takes her father’s hand.
“Thank you dad,” She says softly, and sits down to tell him just how much they mean to her, how they’re exactly what she wanted, and better. She listens a long while, as he describes his whole process in deciding which ones to get, what he’d noticed about her along the way, the lengths he went through to find the perfect pair, and the journeys he took personally to get them. As she listened, she realized he went through a lot and made sacrifices she’d never realized just to get her these shoes.
Meanwhile, the bookworm was off enjoying her gift, with no idea of what her father went through to get her gift. She had a treasure, but she was missing out on the greatest treasure:
The Heart that had given it to her.
God has given us each a unique, never-seen-before calling to live out on this earth, and it’s exhilarating to discover it!- To know that we are unique and set apart from everyone else on this planet in how we function, and that we have a job to do that is uniquely tailored to our desires and strengths.
But who tailored it?
Who designed it?
These are the questions we usually fall short of asking- distracted by the joy of discovering ourselves.
In our excitement about our gifting, we run off with our new treasure and dive into it, eager to make the most of it. But while this isn't bad- because every father wants the gifts he’s worked hard for to be enjoyed- how sad if we see the thing- the gifting, the calling, the personality as the true treasure- instead of the exceptional Heart that crafted it with great care and detail?
This is why our primary identity- first and foremost, always- must be simply as son or daughter of God.
It has to be.
Otherwise we are elevating the gift above the heart of the Giver.
We will spend a very busy life using that gift to it’s fullest, but miss the relationship that was supposed to be its driving force.
Yes everyone in a sense is a “son or daughter” of God…but even this isn't a cookie cutter! For a good Father will relate differently to each child.
He talks to them each differently, spends time with them specifically, and loves them uniquely.
This is what makes our identity as God’s son or daughter just as unique as the talents, strengths, and personality He has woven into us. Our identity as son or daughter is just as unique and hand-crafted as the gifts He puts into our hands.
After the athlete and her father talked for a long time- learning more about each other (and laughing about the crazy shoe store customers that tried to snatch her Air Jordan’s before he could)- they sat for a moment just looking in each others eyes, full-brimming with the pleasure of each other’s company. Then suddenly the father grinned,
“Wanna shoot some hoops?”
“Yeah!” The athlete grabbed her new sneakers and they headed to the hoop…together.
Meanwhile the bookworm was engrossed in Shakespeare- and missing out on the exquisite poetry of her own father’s heart that was living, breathing, and beating just to know her and be known by her.
Nothing should be more important to us than letting ourselves be loved by the Father. Not even our love for Him. Because then it becomes about mustering up love out of duty.
When we simply allow ourselves to be loved by Him, ourlove for Him and others flows out of us in an un-stoppable response.
It happens by default.
May my gift ever draw me to know more of the depths of this amazing Heart. And when I do get up to faithfully use and enjoy the gifts He’s given me, I pray it’s always by His side, not running off to enjoy it on my own.
Relationship is greater than a gift.
Being a Son or Daughter is truer than being a teacher, leader, pastor, defender, athlete, artist.
Knowing His heart is better than knowing the gifts from His hands.