Since my days at university messages centering on identity struck a cord. I believed that everything is about who you are.
Around the age of 20-25 finding one’s identity becomes one of the main goals. Some hit the spot whilst others keep on searching for many years and die still not knowing who they were.
For me, it was during this time that I questioned things around myself and my own identity. Some of these questions were valid but others were lies and deceptions. I wish I could say that I wasn’t deceived but I was, often on the same questions.
Life runs with us and most of the time we just try to keep up. We try to build the plane we need to navigate life with whilst flying. This is most often disastrous. Not only for ourselves but also for other people that cross our paths.
It is crucial to a man’s well-being and his relationships that he discovers who and what he is. A man needs to know what he is made of. That is why most boys challenge one another either in play or sometimes even as if life itself depends on it. As we grow older we do not stop challenging, our opponent just starts to look different – our marriages, our kids, our jobs. We are constantly challenged and we need to know the answer to the question – what are we made of?
It is crucial to a man’s well-being and his relationships that he discovers who and what he is. A man needs to know what he is made of.
Eric Taylor who is regarded as one of the best football coaches in the history of Texas said: “Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. He’s going to fight and he’s going to lose. But what makes a man is that in the midst of the battle he does not lose himself.” When I first read this quote four years ago it struck a chord. At this time I was in my first job, still single but longing to be in a relationship, so challenged and losing on most fronts.
“Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. He’s going to fight and he’s going to lose. But what makes a man is that in the midst of the battle he does not lose himself.”Eric Taylor
When God replaces King Saul (Israel’s first human king) he describes his replacement, King David, as “a man after my own heart”. In 1 Samuel 14 – 17 we meet these two contrasting characters. King Saul is full of himself, follows his own wisdom, regards the opinion of man higher than that of God, and is proud. The king to be, David, is the youngest of 8 sons, he is a brave little shepherd, red of colour. He is the weapon bearer of a king who wants to kill him but he never takes revenge even though the opportunities arrive many times. David is humble and at this point he is honourable and Saul is the bad guy.
However, if we continue reading the records in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel David’s flaws become visible too. The most scandalous is his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband on the battlefield to cover up his sin. Their first child then dies due to his sin as well. Now if David is described as “a man after God’s own heart” what does it mean in the context of his flaws? What does it mean in the context of his glaring sins?
Yes, I know that ultimately Jesus who was born from the lineage of David was the fulfillment of God’s description of David, but these words are also true in the immediate context where we find them in the Bible.
The words of Eric Taylor resonates in my mind when thinking about this situation – “Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. But what makes him a man is that in the midst of that battle he does not lose himself.”
Saul’s biggest flaw was his pride. Pride meant that he was disobedient. Pride meant that he was unable to repent and he was not remorseful over his sin. Saul lost himself in the fight as he thought the fight was about him. He sought himself and his identity in the position he held.
Saul’s biggest flaw was his pride … David, in contrast, was humble
David, in contrast, was humble and the Psalms testify of his remorse. If we read Psalm 51 it is clear that David knew who he was. Not something special. Not something worthy of God’s grace. He did the only thing he could – he went back to the Father. He went back to the One who defines him and in the midst of the battle, he did not lose himself.
Each one of us has our daily battles. It is not the battle that counts or the number of times that we lose that matters. Our battles and our losses do not define us. It matters if we are willing to grab the hand that has already grabbed us. It matters if we are willing to stand again just to fall again but in the midst of this falling and standing and falling, we hold fast to our true identity. This is what matters. This is what it means to be “a man after God’s own heart”.
Amid the battle, we can see in our mind’s eye the image of a true general fighting on the front-line. A general who fought and “lost” but in the midst of it all He did not lose Himself. A general who broke the weight of the cross and our sin. A general who, if we take the Bible at its word, is with us every step of the way.
A general who fought and “lost” but in the midst of it all He did not lose Himself.
I do not know your battles. But I do know the One that can help you win. I know the One who has won them all. Jesus Christ. His victory is available for you. His identity can be yours. He became a son of man so that men could become the sons of God. Allow Him to define you during your battle and journey with me as we discover the grace that makes this possible.
Peace be with you.