". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"I'm Nobody! Who Are You?" (Updated)

This week my husband and I were blessed to attend the 19th Annual Concordia Catechetical Academy Symposium in Sussex, Wisconsin. One of the presenters, Pastor Rolf Preus, spoke about "Knowing Who Jesus Is By What Jesus Does." Here is the third paragraph of that paper (we were provided with a print version):

"We cannot confess the two natures of Christ without confessing Christ as our Redeemer from sin. We cannot talk about who Jesus is without talking about what Jesus does. We cannot consider the person of Christ in isolation from his work."

The inability to separate Christ's words from His actions was a recurring theme of the conference. I had the thought while listening to all of this that it gets at the heart of why vocation is so important. Human beings are inextricably tied to what they do. It is from what we do that we take our identity. 

So when a relationship is broken, one feels not only the loss of that person on an external level but on an internal one as well. "I was a __________ (friend, spouse) and now I'm not; what, then, am I?"

Or when a dear one dies, that loss, too, is more than just the absence of that beloved person, but a new hole within oneself. "I was a __________ (daughter, son, mother, father, sibling) and now I'm not, at least not to the person who is gone; what, then, am I?"

Or when a job is lost, it is not just the worry about making ends meet that can keep one up at night, but the questioning of who one is. "I was a __________ (teacher, pastor, cantor, accountant, secretary) and now I'm not; what then, am I?"

The list could go on. When the loss is not due to death or a broken relationship or the ending of employment but is instead merely the passing from one phase of life to another (as with a breadwinner retiring or a homeschool mom's last child leaving home or going to school) there will still be significant need for adjustment because when the thing we have done for so long comes to an end we are going to some extent feel and grieve that loss.

I realize I am not observing anything new or profound here. But considering all of this in light of Pastor Preus's paper has driven the point home for me in a brand new way. We are what we do. What we do is at the core of who we are. So when what we do changes, we may find ourselves wondering, "Who in the world am I?"

Thanks be to God that even when a Christian can't answer that question in terms of his temporal life he can still answer it in terms of his eternal one: "I may not know what I am doing today, and I may not know what I am going to do tomorrow, but I know who I am. I am a child of God. Jesus has called me, and no matter what I do, I am HIS!" 

No comments: