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How do I know you are you?

Updated: Aug 15

by: Randy Grathen

In our modern society we need identification for all kinds of things. When we’re born we get a birth certificate - our very first form of identification. That is when your mother gives you your official name. You know, the one you're stuck with for the REST OF YOUR LIFE! Poor Shaniqua will never get a personalized T-shirt, bicycle license plate, coffee mug or shot glass while she’s on vacation. And who names their kid Dwezel?

In our teens we finally receive that coveted document, the Driver’s License. This is also when you find out that there really is an “ugly” setting on a camera. No matter how much time you spend fussing over your hair and makeup, you end up looking like you just got booked into the county jail after a drunken brawl at a rock concert and you gained 20 pounds between the time you left the house and arrived at the DMV. Then there is the Social Security card, Library card, Voter Registration card, Credit Card, Sam’s Club card, buy five pizzas get-one-free card, and on and on.

It's hard to imagine what life would be like without them until it happens. Laurie and I survived a tornado back in 2003; you can read that story here, but the house; on the other hand, did not.

When I came home from work, I put my wallet and keys in a drawer in our China cabinet next to the garage door. When Laurie got home, she put her purse on a little table next to the door. When the tornado hit, the China cabinet, the little table and the rest of the house was gone.

The next morning people from our church showed up to help us start searching through the rubble for anything salvageable. Our friends Sandy Gumm and Michelle O’Dell picked me up and took me into town to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Center to sign up for assistance. The first words I heard when I stepped up to the counter was “I need to see some identification.” Great! What could I show her? My wallet along with the China cabinet was probably in a laying in a field somewhere miles from our house. I went back to Sandy’s car and said, “They need to see some identification so I can prove I’m me.”

I learned a very interesting lesson that day. There is no such thing as a card-carrying Christian. You don’t get an ID card when you accept Jesus. People can lie about who they are, they can change their name, or use an alias, but the only way one can prove they are a son or daughter of God the Father is by their actions.

Are we instantly transformed into perfect holy ambassadors for Christ? Not hardly! But the inevitable change begins at that moment. In my experience I’ve found some of the most annoying people I have ever met are newbie Christians. With little biblical knowledge and even less tact, they ram Jesus and salvation down people’s throat. Learning to act like a Christian, with maturity and grace and growing in the Fruit of the Spirit takes time.

Producing fruit is the crowning achievement of a plant. But there is a lot of growth and maturing that goes on inside and under the plant before anything begins to show outwardly. An olive tree can take up to 12 years to produce its first fruit. In the beginning it puts most of its effort and energy into to putting down deep, strong roots. Later it works on the visible growth aboveground. That’s the part of you that others see. And finally, you produce fruit.

This is the outward expression of all you’ve learned with temperance and restraint in order to act Christ-like. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) That can be a long journey, but one of excitement and the joy of discovery as the Holy Spirt guides you and mentors you. Do you need to wait until you are a mature Christian before you share? Not practical or productive. But, no one can dispute your “aha” moment. Your story of redemption can have greater impact on someone than sharing a hundred verses of the bible. Most people can relate to one’s life-struggles, and who doesn’t love a story with a happy ending?

Life should not be a race, it’s a journey. A journey of discovery, as you explore your relationship with your Father in Heaven, the Holy Spirit, and your new brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t neglect building those relationships.

Oh, and my missing wallet? Even though the China cabinet, the little table and the entire rest house was gone, they found my wallet and Laurie’s purse in the yard, twenty feet from where the house once stood. God knew we’d need our identification and credit cards in the weeks to come but first He wanted to teach us something.

May the grace of the Lord and the peace that surpasses all understanding be with you always.

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