Close to six months of restricted activities have caused several of us to miss or to postpone some appointments. Meetings, get-togethers, doctors’ appointments, and more have had to be adjusted. You may have had to postpone an appointment with an eye doctor. If so let’s use this devotional to do an eye examination of a different sort.
Think about who you are. Each of us is a wonderful combination of mind and spirit and soul that feels and thinks and speaks. And when that wonderful combination expresses itself, we often use the word “I.” We speak up for the self within us and say “I feel” or “I think” or “I don’t want to.” This is the “I’ that the doctor wants to examine. The doctor who wants to see us is of course Jesus Christ.
You understand that Jesus, the Great Physician, knows us through and through. But He also expects us to know ourselves. When Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23), He laid down the requirement that we know ourselves. This “self” He calls us to deny in order to follow Him, is simply the “I” that speaks up saying “I can” or “I will” or “I don’t understand.” What does Jesus mean? Does He want us to hate who we are or resist whatever gives us our identity?
Actually Jesus wants to give us a new identity in Him. God created each us to be unique. Hearing the call of Christ means God is inviting us in our uniqueness to become all we were created to be. Hearing and answering that call reveals there is a self within that resists. We discover that this self is often more in tune with the world than with the Lord’s call. To keep our selves healthy, we need an “I” exam.”
Thinking of who we are, the “I” that acts, cares, speaks, and feels isn’t a matter of “navel-gazing” or morbid self-absorption,. Neither is it a call for self-condemnation. Instead it is time with the Lord as He lovingly speaks, probes, and listens to us. Over the hour or day or however long it takes, the Lord helps us to be open and honest, setting aside our excuses for the times we have postponed our “appointments” with Him.
As any good physician does, the Lord often begins by listening to us. We have hurts, maybe even hates. We tell Him of our weaknesses and strengths, our hopes. We begin to recognize our difficulties in following Him, but perhaps we miss the real problems that keep us away. If so, He begins to ask questions. He is God and knows our answers, but He wants us to hear our own answers, too. Some of His “I” questions are difficult, even unpleasant, to answer. Our answers begin to tell us what sort of “I” we are. He may ask us to fill in the blanks below as we think about our wants. It’s a good chance for the “I” to speak up. (You will probably have more than one answer for each question. We are complex people.)
I want to be __________.
I want to get or to have ________.
I want to do __________.
I want to stop __________.
That little test was easy, wasn’t it? Probably not if we allow the real “I” within to answer. The questions are simple but they ask us to look into our wants and wishes. They are simple, but answered in the presence of the Lord who knows our hearts, they give us a picture of who we are. As we understand better who we are we can return to Jesus words. We can discover more of the “I” within that must be denied that we might follow our Lord.