This devotional was written in 2014 and first appeared in the final edition of Evangel Magazine in August, 2015.
“Who is this?” asked the child on the other end of the line.
“This is Colleen. When you come to visit, I’m the lady that works in the office near the lobby.”
“Oh!” she says knowingly, “You’re the runner!” I smiled at this, a bit surprised that a child client at the counseling clinic recognized me as the runner. Being a runner has become a significant part of my identity. I’ve wondered, though, if I spend too much time running. I don’t think so; but then again, I’m not an impartial judge in this matter. It’s only half playfully that I refer to running as my five times a week therapy session. I also justify my running (and church truancy) by using it to spend time with God. Usually, it’s me spilling out my thoughts, concerns, joys and complaints to the Lord, not giving Him much time to respond. He does have a way, however, of getting a word in edge-wise. Sometimes, I listen to my Ipod, hoping it will pull my attention from the pain I’m feeling during a challenging workout. I do not think it is by chance that while on shuffle, I tend to hear the song, “I Surrender All” during the most difficult section of my run. This past winter proved a bit too vicious for regular outside running. Because of this, I spent more time on the treadmill listening to my Ipod. One evening I decided I needed some talk therapy.
Subtly woven into the Beth Moore podcast I’d chosen was a truth that God made crystal clear to me. My identity is not determined by the things I do or say, nor even by how others speak of me, view me or consider me. All of these things can be inaccurate, fickle and even unimportant. Rather, my identity is defined by my Heavenly Father, the Creator.
I shouldn’t allow anyone but God to define who I am. Imagine our world if all Christ followers lived like Him. In case that doesn’t sound interesting, I don’t think it means that millions of people would be walking around as Jesus clones.
The greatness of Jesus is so immense, I believe it would take billions of people with an immeasurable variety of personalities, qualities and characteristics to even begin to reflect the whole of Jesus. Do others see in me what God sees in me?
If you and I ran into each other-maybe literally-like in a minor fender bender car accident, would you be able to see Jesus in me? What’s my first thought? Is it, Oh, I hope the other person isn’t hurt? Or is it, I have no clue where my insurance card is, and this cannot be my fault?
Does anything set me apart from the dozens or possibly hundreds of people I pass each day? I am certain Jesus would smile at others, encourage those who need a pick-me-up, open the door for the person whose hands are full, or let someone go ahead of Him in line. He’d even do this for unpleasant people, less than pretty people, and people who don’t even notice His kindness. These are not huge things, but we’d know this was Jesus, because we’d see His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23).
When I choose to practice the fruits of the Spirit, I am reflecting Christ, and becoming much closer to the person God has defined me to be. The reason these wonderful qualities would set me apart is because they naturally cause me to put others before myself, just as Jesus did when He endured the cross.
Each day I walk (or run) on this earth, I pray that I become more like the person God has defined me to be. I’ll know this has been achieved when I am recognized not as the runner, but rather as the person who reminds you of Jesus.