Archive for July, 2015

the desert

So…what do you do for a living?  Where do you work? What are you going to be?

Questions of identity. We ask them every day in casual conversation. And we are asked to give an answer. We live in a world in which we are identified by our titles. Somehow what we do equates to who we are.

But what happens when those titles no longer exist? When you no longer wear the label that has defined you in the eyes of others.

For years, I was known as a Minister, Worship Leader, Youth Pastor, Evangelist. But then, I walked into the desert. Theologically, we could debate what lead me there. Was it God? Was it just coincidence? Was it the Devil? Was it situations of my own making? Or an inevitable end brought about by the decisions of others.

Regardless of how I got there, I cannot deny for many years the desert became my home, my dwelling place, and eventually a classroom in which I have learned some valuable lessons.

                Here’s one of them: Titles do not Define You

Titles are like clothing. If you wear them to long, they get dirty and begin to smell. They become stained with the experiences of life. And those stains become your identity.

Like the old saying goes, “Clothing makes the Man”.  This saying feeds another motto, quite often used in business and when prepping someone for a job interview, “Dress to impress.”

Using this analogy, the real problem comes when we wear our titles in order to impress others or to define ourselves.

Until the clothes are taken off, or in other words, we are stripped of our titles, we never know who we really are.

Every day, I get dressed and in doing so I cover up the imperfections that can only be seen when I am totally naked. Yeah, it’s true. I do not have washboard abs and a beach body.

I never realized it was the same with titles. Until…I was in the desert and no longer able to wear the labels through which I had been defined for years and from which I thought I had discovered my identity.

In the desert, titles mean nothing. In the desert you are stripped of the labels that have defined you. At first it hurts. It stings. It can even be embarrassing. It seems confusing and you frantically try to “get dressed.” Putting on a new title, a new identity. Hoping you find one that fits, because who wants to be seen naked; allowing others to see the scars and imperfections we hide every day.

But, the amazing thing about being stripped of labels and titles, is the raw honesty that it produces. When you no longer have to live up to the expectations that come with titles, you can finally discover your true identity.

Because, in the desert, there is no one to impress. In the desert, titles mean nothing. Resumes are irrelevant. In the desert there is nothing but you and the sand.

In the desert is where we are truly honest about who we are. And…in the desert is where we can truly find God.

Because in the desert I did not and could not come before the Creator of All Things with any title or accomplishment. I did not come as a Pastor, Worship Leader or Minister.  I did not come with my education, experience or resume. I did not come with my lists of what I had done for him or people I had tried to help.

              I came with nothing.

And the reason the desert changed my life, was because I discovered a God who loved me as I am: stripped, naked, scarred and bare; with nothing to offer him but the beating of my heart and the breath of my lips.

And though I am no longer in the desert, I still carry the love and grace that was bestowed on me in a season in which no man could help me.

If you find yourself in a desert season in which you feel alone, abandoned, stripped and unsure of the future or your identity, I want to encourage you. Embrace the desert and receive the love and grace of the God who made you and who is right by your side. Whatever you lose of yourself in the desert season, you did not really need. And what you discover… just may be what you were looking for all along.

             Titles do not define you unless you let them.

Be who God created you to be and allow his love and grace to strip away all the titles we wear that conceal our true self. For who we are was created by Him, everything else is just apparel we put on in an attempt to hide our shame.