Resting In Your Identity

Resting In Your Identity

rest in Jesus

Resting in Your Identity

by Becky Ritchey

REST is a Big Deal to God

This month’s theme – ‘REST’ – is bringing out the theologian in me. I’ve been searching the Scriptures and Bible commentaries on the subject. Obviously ‘rest’ is important to God: the Bible tells us twice in the beginning that God Himself rested after creating the world (Genesis 2:2,3). Fast forward closer to the end of the Bible, where the writer of Hebrews was inspired to devote two chapters to the subject (Hebrews 3 & 4). I’d call that a big deal, wouldn’t you?

Now, I don’t want to get too deep into Biblical theology. But the example of the Israelites trudging through the Sinai wilderness forty years, then denied access to the Promised Land due to their disobedience and unbelief has me shaking in my sandals before God. The implications are obvious, and I’m praying, “Lord, help me to be obedient and believe you to the end!” lest I miss out on all God has for me. Yet, because the warning in Hebrews is in the context of ‘rest’, I’ve been asking God for practical application to my life.

Striving vs. Resting

Two commentaries I read on the Hebrews passage compared the Israelites’ example to the Christian salvation experience.* Put simply: the wilderness is the ‘before salvation’ part of a Christian’s life, whereas the Promised Land is the ‘now I’m saved’ part. In practical terms, I see a ‘striving vs. resting’ application. This resonates with me in a very real sense with the issue of personal identity – in other words: WHO AM I? Isn’t this a question that plagues every one of us on some level, at some time in our lives?

I’ve spent much of my life – both before and after salvation – struggling with identity issues. Beginning in my early teens, I was obsessed with my appearance. I wanted to fit in with my peers and wear the latest fashions (1960’s orange fishnet stockings!), yet I never could just rest in how I looked, always striving to be acceptable. This insecurity continued into my adult years, even [to a degree] after I became a Christian. My BFF Kathy was shocked at the number of mirrors in my house (I’ve cut down, honestly). There’s a difference between taking care with your appearance and being so insecure that you’re obsessed. I’ve come a long way and I can honestly say at the age of 61, I’m no longer obsessed (I hope), but I do care how I look. Part of this is wisdom born through age and much has come with maturity in Christ (I hope).

Identity More than Skin Deep

Please don’t think I’m focusing on outward appearance as the key to personal identity – FAR FROM IT! I merely used that as an example. My identity struggle was deeply rooted in my insecurities [see my July post The Freedom of Ignorance]. I was always struggling to be someone, but I never knew who that someone was supposed to be. After I gave my life to Jesus when I was 25, I was carefree for a while, resting in the security of His love. Gradually, my insecurities started resurfacing (it was years before I saw this as an identity struggle). Once again, I found myself striving to fit in. When I encountered some (unwarranted) criticism in my church, I tried harder to be a good Christian. As time went on, I was the only childless married woman in my church.  How do I fit into a church culture that focuses on families and children? That gave me some very unique identity issues. I worked full time and loved my job and found it hard to relate to most of the stay-at-home moms at church. And there was no ministry for women in my church who didn’t fit that paradigm. Then, God opened the door for me to go to college full-time – a desire of my heart, but somewhat lonely since, again, I was the only one among my Christian peers. This also added another element to my identity struggle: as a Christian with biblically-based values, I was bowled over by a tidal wave of anti-Christian ideas in a liberal academic environment. Through my years as a Navy wife, I also found I had to re-invent myself every time we moved. Often, when we would move, my mother would ask me, “What are you going to do?” I’d find myself asking God the same question, often groping around to find the answer, Who am I NOW?

Resting in Jesus

rest in Jesus

© Becky Ritchey

Through all these life changes, the key to my identity has been one word: JESUS. Who I have been – and who I will be – are IN CHRIST JESUS, the Author and Finisher of my faith. Through the struggling, groping, and swimming against the tide, I’ve learned that because I’m a Christian, I don’t have to strive to be someone: I can rest in the fact that Jesus died for me and loves me unconditionally. That’s who I am. Amen.

 

*Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible and The New Bible Commentary: Revised

 

Becky Ritchey
Becky Ritchey

Becky Ritchey is a World History instructor at Tidewater Community College. She loves inspiring less gifted students to succeed by identifying and focusing on their strengths. For fun, she enjoys journaling, needlework, reading, cooking, and gardening. Becky and her husband of 35 years, Steve, were members of New Life Providence for over 10 years. They’ve recently relocated to the Kansas City, KS area along with their beagle, Buddy.

2 Comments

  1. Well written. Resting in your identity comes from trusting that He who begun a good work in you is able to complete it. I’ve read a few of your posts and my heart cried out for you as I read about your struggle to have children. My husband and I started very early. I was 19 when we had our first child. I had two more at 21 and 23 before finally tying my tubes. I have often wondered what my life would have been like without them. Truth is, we weren’t ready for them, but I’ve learned something about God. He allows things to happen for a reason. I’m 100% positive that my relationship with the Lord would not be what it is today had it not been for the kids …that I wasn’t ready for. Despite being the oldest if three, I’ve always been the baby, too afraid to stand and fight so everyone else did it for me. When life got too tough and no one could fight for me I mapped out a plan to end my life. It wasn’t until I looked at those innocent that I realized that I might not be strong enough to trust the Lord for myself, but I had to be strong enough for my children. I couldn’t leave them motherless. At that point my relationship with the Lord grew much deeper. Life was too hard for me to trust Him for myself so He allowed three kids to come back to back and bring me to my knees. He wouldn’t quit on me even when I wanted to. I don’t know what your story is , but I know that God allows things to happen for a reason. I’m glad that you have found rest in your identity in Christ.

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