“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:5-10
I was a freshman in college when I wanted to be a senior in high school.
What happened was that I was 18 and graduated from my own high school. One of my best friends was a year younger than me. He went to a catholic high school in Northern Illinois. He lived across the bay from me but I had gone to a public high school. I was taking freshman classes at the local community college because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I thought I did, but it turned out I didn’t have a clue. Only today do I realize that it had a lot to do with what I was going through in my life at the time. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good senior year of my own, but I put my heart and soul into my best friend’s senior year. I went to his senior year homecoming with a girl from his high school. I went to his senior prom with another girl from his high school. I went to his football games, basketball games, and we hung out all the time.
I didn’t know who I was. But God did. And God started me on the road to becoming His man.
After that year, I transferred to a Lutheran college and began to study for the ministry. But I still hadn’t quite figured out who I was, even if I had begun to figure out what I was going to do with my life.
In college, I started hanging out with a group of guys. Great guys. They were all studying to be pastors like me (although they were much better at the whole “going to class” thing than I was). We began to sing together and we were pretty good. It might have been simply coincidence (but then again, maybe not) that they were all from Iowa. Most Iowans are intensely proud of their state and their heritage (it must be something in the corn) and these guys were no different. I was the odd man out, being from Illinois, specifically the Chicago area (about as different from Iowa as any place could be).
I still didn’t know who I was. I was still trying to find myself. And I’m almost afraid to admit this – and I know I’ll hear it from those guys after they read this – but I was sorely tempted to try to become an Iowan myself. I saw how happy, how solid, how full of life these guys were. I wanted to be a man like that.
But it is a testament to how far God had brought me without my even realizing it that I never really went too far in becoming an Iowan. I think the furthest I got was to read a book called “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy” by W. P. Kinsella (who also wrote “Shoeless Joe” which became the movie “A Field of Dreams.”)
Instead of trying yet again to become someone else, I began to become myself. Or rather, I was beginning to become the man God had in mind when He made me.
There is something inside us as humans that deny who we are and makes many of us try to be something we are not. I suspect it has something to do with losing the image of God that we were originally created with. We lost who we were and sin makes us try to be something else.
Then a miracle happened. Since we couldn’t become who we were meant to be, God became one of us. God become human in Jesus of Nazareth. He took on flesh and blood. Then He spilled that blood and broke that flesh on the cross and took away our sin.
Jesus’ death and resurrection makes us who we are – children of God. It was and is a defining moment in our lives.
No longer do I have to pretend to be something else – a part of my best friend’s senior year or an Iowan (sorry guys!). I can be me. Pastor. Husband. Father. son (little “s”) of God through baptism.
I can be the man God has called to tell the Good News about Jesus. I can be the man who loves one woman (and has for over 24 years) as unconditionally as any human can. I can be the man who raises three boys to know Jesus, love baseball and Chicago, and I can be the man who thanks God everyday for my life. My life. Not a life I envisioned long ago when I didn’t know who I was. Not a life of trying to be someone I’m not nor ever could be.
I thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus that makes me His man. Each day He reveals a little more about me, and that’s pretty exciting!
© 2015 True Men Ministries