35@35 #7: Identity

IdentityTC's Guidelines and Principals for Life #7: "Don’t worry so much about where you are, focus on who you are.  Worry more about what’s happening in you than what’s happening to you." I learned this lesson when I found myself stuck in a corporate job that I didn't want. I'm grateful for the job, because it allowed me to provide for my family while I was working on attaining a graduate degree in Theology.

But the job didn't connect with what I felt God had called me to do, so I was pretty miserable.

One morning, as I was walking to the train to start my day (which also included a 3 hour commute), I felt God say this guideline to me. That I was so worried about what I was doing, that I wasn't paying attention to what God wanted to do within me. That the frustrating situation that I was in was actually causing me to become a different person.

A person who needed more faith and trust in God. A person who would have compassion for people who were stuck in the same type of situation.

I was eating manna in the wilderness because God was preparing me for the promised land he had for me.

Israel could have crossed from Egypt to Canaan in a matter of weeks or perhaps months. It took 40 years because God had to prepare them for their destination.

If you have areas in your life where you are frustrated, ask God what he wants to accomplish in you during that situation.

I found that God was dealing with specific issues within me that he wanted to deal with: pride, impatience, anxiety; and so he would put me in situations that really brought those problems to the front in my life. Then, he would go to work, helping me to confront those issues.

God is less concerned with getting us somewhere 'quickly' as he is with us being 'healthy' when we get there.

Elsewhere, I've made the analogy that God is more like a crockpot than a microwave.

God wants us to to grow as a person and connect more with Him before we start going off and trying to do something with it. And that's basically the opposite of what our culture tells us. Success means being the first to make it to a certain level.

But God isn't keeping score like some demented rat race. He's building relationships that make up his Kingdom of love and peace and joy.

And unless you become a healthy person, you'll never get to enjoy the benefits of that kingdom.

Stop measuring yourself against others, and instead time time to learn what God's agenda is for you.


35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.


rejectionI was reading John chapter 12 today in the Message translation when I got to verses 47-48, where Jesus says this: “If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection.”

Jesus says that he doesn’t reject anybody. But some people reject him.

I look at the infinite patience Jesus had for people who were leading corrupt or broken lives. I wondered how Jesus did that. How could he show such mercy and grace to people that were living in a manner completely opposite to what God had called them to?

I think it’s because they never rejected him. You never see a prostitute or thief or leper that Jesus forgives or heals telling him off; questioning whether he is sent by God.

The people who rejected him were the ones who didn’t think Jesus had the right to forgive and even heal. They didn’t take him seriously. Those were the ones who Jesus had to confront and combat regularly.

It’s very easy to see fault in other people’s lives. But when our response stops being compassion and acceptance, I think we become people who don’t take Jesus seriously.

Waiting on God

I noticed something in the Bible today: Jesus didn’t take shortcuts. He was born as a baby, not a man.

He let John baptize him, despite the fact John thought it was ridiculous. Jesus’ response? “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” (Matthew 3:15) In other words, this is plan God laid out, so we’re gonna do it right.

After John the Baptists imprisonment, Jesus went to Galilee in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah (see Matthew 4:15-17)

See, despite the fact that Jesus was fully qualified to fulfill his role, his calling at any point; he had to wait until it was time. He had to do all the things that needed to occur before beginning his ministry. He had to do the first things first. Because God’s plan is to be followed, not picked and skipped like some out of date procedure.

The past two years of my life, I have been waiting. Waiting for God to put me in a place that could fulfill my calling in a full-time position. I have been working at a job that allowed me to support my family and put myself through Graduate school. With school complete, I sought a job that would be in line with my mission, my calling.

But the silence from heaven on when I would get to that place was deafening.

I wrestled with frustration. I cried, I yelled, I demanded, I set ultimatums, I proclaimed, I begged. I know what it’s like to try not to hope for something better because the hope just hurts.

I knew that God was preparing me and maturing me, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t really, really hate the process.

That season of my life is now coming to a close. In the span of 1 month, here are the changes to my life that are occuring:

- My wife gave birth to our third child (our first son).

- I was offered a full time position as a pastor at a local church.

- I will start teaching my first classes at a local university as an adjunct professor.

You should realize that being in ministry at a really awesome church and working as a professor are two things I have been asking God for over the course of the two years. And I’m ecstatic to have another kid. I always wanted to have at least 3.

God has given me all I’ve ever wanted, but only at the proper time.

My wife and I had another offer for a job before this, but we felt it wasn’t part of God’s plan. We had to turn it down at the time. That was painful, but now we see that if we had taken that position, we never would have gotten to ‘the promised land’. If we had taken the easy way out, we would have missed the awesome things God was about to do.

As I look back on the past two years, I see how God was with me the entire time. Even (perhaps especially) on the worst days, when I was full of despair and hopelessness.

I’ve heard the cliche many times that ‘Trusting God means trusting in his timing’. But it certainly is true. God isn’t mean or cruel or forgetful. He does let us deal with adversity and challenges and uncertainty. Not because it amuses him, but because (I believe) he wants us to learn to trust him more and more. My best friend put it like this: as a parent, it’s great to tell your kids some great news and see them dance around the house shouting with joy. But it’s also meaningful to hold them tightly and whisper words of encouragement when they are sad or hurt or fearful. A true relationship is not just built on the ‘highs’ of life. It is build on the lows and the normal, boring days as well.

There’s no way to rush depth in a relationship. It takes time and shared experiences. And I believe that is why God would never give us shortcuts. Because to avoid adversity or uncertainty would mean that his relationship with us will be cheapened and weakened.

He is not a fair weather God. He wants us to know that he’ll be with us in the worst of times as well as the best of times.