We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. –Romans 14:7-8
I remember an old Three Stooges movie where they got lost somewhere in the mountains of Italy. They were pulling a crude wooden cart and needed to finish their trek to a town on the other side of the mountain. After a brief argument between them (involving some knocks on heads, pokes of eyes, and slaps of cheeks complete with all the sound effects), they come across a peasant working in his field. They ask him for directions. He looks east. He looks west. He points, stutters, looks south, and points again. Finally, scratching his head, he says, “If I were you, I wouldn’t start from here.”
Well spoken, Mr. Peasant. The trouble was, they had no other place to start from.
Just like me. Today. In my life. I want to get to Jesus. I want to discover just who it is he thinks I am. I want to find that road through the mountains that will lead me to freedom, peace, purpose, safety, and victory.
But, like poor Larry, Moe, and Curly, I’m starting out right here–stuck where I’m at confused, traveling in circles, and with my view of the ultimate destination blocked by the impassible and the immovable.
If I were talking to Mr. Peasant, I would have asked him, ‘So where do you suggest I start from?”
He probably wouldn’t have had an answer. Or, if he did, he may have doubted my ability to believe him or follow through. Weary travelers in the Three Stooges’ predicament don’t always convey a convince degree of wisdom.
How do we get there from here?
The amazing thing is, each of us has an internal compass. For those who belong to the Lord, this compass is already calibrated to point us in the right direction.
Maybe we don’t need to struggle as much searching for a place to belong because Jesus is already here. Instead of me trying to get to him, maybe he’s running to get to me.
Rather than trying to figure out where “due North” is, maybe I need to pause and rest so that Jesus can reach me. When he does, we journey on together.
What were to happen to those Stooges if, instead of asking for directions, they kept walking? With the power of the Lord within, even the smallest steps of faith count for something. Where there was no road through the mountains before, a new one gets created just by moving forward.
Instead of the path blocked by the impossible, that obstacle becomes a means of blessing. It holds surprises and helpful strategies that I wouldn’t have considered until viewing it up close.
What does all this have to do with finding identity in Christ? When we identify with someone, we associate with them. We become a part of their group or their movement. Identity gives us a sense of what is real. It gives us a sense of who we are. Identity helps us understand where we belong.
Did the Stooges belong in Italy? They certainly would’ve stood out in a crowd.
Did they belong on that road they though would take them over the mountain? Possibly.
Do I belong on this road I journey right here and now? The only way to find out is to remember who I belong to. My internal compass will naturally point me toward the One with whom I identify.
If I identify with Jesus and belong to him, then freedom, peace, purpose, safety, and victory are mine. If by consulting my internal compass I discover that I do not belong to Jesus, then it’s never too late to get off this road and choose a different one.
Jesus already knows the road he wants each of us to travel. H’s been watching and waiting for the moment when we realize where we belong. He accepts us when we choose him. Then we begin a relationship with him. Out of that relationship, he tells us who we are and how we fit into the story he’s written for each of our lives.