thoughts on time and identity

Time is such a strange concept.

As of today, I’ve been in Italy for one month.

   Venezia

 Venezia

On one hand, it feels like I just got here; but simultaneously, I feel as though I’ve been here my entire life.

I can’t help but think of 2 Peter 3:8, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

If time is insignificant to the work of the Lord, why do we feel so pressured by it? (I discussed the pressures of being “on time” in this post.)

In our humanity, we are constrained to time. Our days, weeks, years are systematically scheduled and little variation is considered acceptable. Yet, “He has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecc. 3:11). There is a sense of disbelonging in this world—including in its time. As beings created in the image of God, we long for the things of His reality. Though we cannot fully comprehend it with our finite minds, there is a sense of home in the thought of eternity with Him. I am put at ease by the thought that God is outside of time, and I am made for eternal communion with Him.

Learning to Rest in Him

Peter continues in verse 9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you.” I don’t know about you, but I often feel the need to rush through life. In regards to my future and the things I feel called to, I find myself asking God, how much longer? Let’s be honest here. It’s not that gentle. It’s more like: how. much. longer!?! (I’m not the most patient person in the world.) But God is patient with my impatience.

But God: who is beyond the earthly condition of time; who exists in every moment with full knowledge of what’s happened and what’s to come; who has a purpose and a plan for His creation… He asks us to wait on Him.

It’s not an inactive waiting. The waiting is living, loving, being the hands and feet of Jesus. But it may not be in the context we feel called to, or in the circumstances he’s promised. While we wait on the perfect timing of the Lord, we are to live zealously for Him. Because it is in serving Him and abiding in His presence that we find true rest—a rest that equips us for the journey ahead.

Where is my identity found?

In the past few months, the Lord has been pulling me close, beckoning me to sit at His feet and rest in His presence. But there’s too much to do. In response to my unwillingness to pause, He stripped me of my earthly identities and plopped me in a place where I have little responsibility. I no longer have titles to identify myself by, or roles to fill.

I don’t have a job title,

I don’t have a specific role in ministry,

I don’t have a “home”,

I’m not a student,

I’m not on a purposeless vacation,

I’m not a missionary.

But in the midst of all the “don’ts” and “nots,” I have found clarity regarding who I am in Christ: the identity that matters above all else. He has been tearing down my preconceived notions about life and ministry and calling, and has sternly but lovingly showed me who He says I am. The Father doesn’t look at us and see our titles and worldly achievements. He sees His Son, and how our character is being transformed into His image. He sees how we are loving each other, even when it’s not our “job”. He sees how we put pride and insecurity aside to be a bold witness of His grace. He sees when we are meditating on the truths of Scripture, allowing it to adjust our focus unto the glory of He who is worthy of it all.

He doesn’t need to give us titles to use us for the furthering of His kingdom. Just like He is outside of time, He is beyond the human systems of careers and formal ministry. He can—and does—set people aside for specific ministries, but does not need our earthly efforts. Yes, He can work within human systems. But He is not confined to them.

If He wants to use me right where I am, He will. No matter how lacking I am in titles and responsibilities. Because it is not how the world views me that matters, or even how I see myself. It’s about the Father, and how He carefully designed me for His purposes. It’s about Jesus, and His blood that washed me clean. It’s about the Holy Spirit, who directs me and equips me for service.

When we have a right view of God, and a right view of self in light of Him, we are more able to walk in the calling that he has for us all: to love Him and others as He first loved us.

 —

My time in Italy hasn’t been easy so far, but refinement rarely is.

Every stone I’ve laid in my life that was not placed firmly on the foundation of Christ has been knocked down. But God is in the business of rebuilding, and has begun a work in me that I am confident He will complete… in His timing. Until then, I wait.