Friday night, as I fell asleep, I was wandering through the laundry list of prayers that come up out of my physical fatigue and my weary mind, soul, and spirit. This week has been long. Friday took forever to arrive. There have been good moments, but also hard moments. There have been sweet times of fellowship with the Father and with community, but also really heavy moments of processing and headaches from stress. There have been moments of incredible affirmation—including being called “a writer” on several different occasions. But the week ended with a pretty unexpected realization that an “identity crisis” was at hand. Questions about who I am and what I’m doing here—yes, even in this land that I love—bounced around my mind Friday like pinballs in a machine that is never-ending. The machine won’t make a wrong move and lose the game. It just keeping going, hitting, racking up points—wearing me out.
Towards the end of the list, I thought about what Saturday morning could hold. I could sleep until I woke up, and then sleep some more if I needed to. I usually take a break from my routine reading in the Word on Saturdays, so I just asked the Father to lead me as I would wake up, drink some coffee, read the devotional book I’m going through—Streams in the Desert, and spend time with Him.
I sheepishly asked Him to speak somehow into my identity. I didn’t know what that would look like, but I knew even as I fell asleep—“I need to be reminded who I am, who I am in you, Father. Before I even need to know why I’m here or what You’ve got planned for me in this place…I need to know who I am in You again.” I fell asleep quickly, stayed asleep beautifully, and had fairly low expectations for what He might say to me.
I woke up at 6:30 AM and promptly decided to go back to sleep. I re-woke up at 7:30 AM to texts from my mom, after a long-weird dream about eating granola at the house I grew up in. (I’m really craving homemade granola, guys.) I spent some time on my knees, the only comfortable routine I’ve fallen into here. I scrambled eggs with shredded cheese, made a french press full of beautiful black coffee, grabbed a banana-maple-wheat muffin, and I came back to find text messages of how to lift up a friend. So I went to my porch and began to eat and pray.
We’re both unsure of His sovereignty in these days. Different circumstances dance around us, with thousands of miles and ten (and a half) hours of time difference between us, and yet our feet are shaky. Our hands are weak. Our minds are minefields. So I asked Him to lift up our eyes. She asked for Him to quiet our minds and still our hearts, so we could hear His voice. “He is faithful,” she wrote back. “Father, come find us.”
I opened Streams in the Desert—and found Romans 8.26-27 waiting for me.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
“He helps us,” I texted Liz. “He does not shy away from our weaknesses (like we do). He helps us. Praise. ‘Cause I certainly don’t know how to be helped.”
I highlighted so much in those following three pages. This passage spoke to my heart: As one who wants to express things clearly and fully and well, my heart that hasn’t been able to do that this week. And yet the Spirit knows. Christ understands. And, even in the silence, “there is an unspeakable fellowship that is sweeter than words.”
And, so, I knew where He wanted to meet me. In Romans 8, this climax of a letter sent to believers whom Paul had never even seen face-to-face. This crescendo of what all the gospel means to us. This chapter’s opening line ends with the chief identity marker of those he writes to: “those who are in Christ Jesus.” I framed those words with a small box, starred them, and wrote the words “THIS IS WHO YOU ARE” above them. And I knew to start reading these words for myself, to remember who I am.
And so, below, I’ve simply typed out what He said to me. I may not have any idea what the steps look like or what the actions He will call me to do will be in this season, but today I can rest—fully and freely—upon the truth of who His gospel has identified me as. This is who I am (this is who we are):
You can no longer be condemned.
You are in Christ Jesus.
You are set free by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
In You, the righteous requirement of the law is to be fulfilled (because of what God has done for you).
You walk according to the Spirit, not the flesh.
You set your mind on the things of the Spirit, which for you is life and peace.
You please God, because your mind is set on the things of the Spirit.
You are in the Spirit. The Spirit dwells in you.
You belong to the Spirit of Christ.
Christ is in you.
The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, and He will also give life to your mortal body through His Spirit, who dwells in you.
You are alive. You put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit within you; so, you are not a debtor to the flesh, to live according to its desires.
You are adopted.
You are a child of God, not a slave to fear.
You cry out, “Abba! Father!” to this God who has adopted you.
You are commended by the Spirit.
Your spirit is testified to by the Spirit—that you are indeed His child (The Spirit Himself sings the soft lullaby of adoption over you).
You are an heir of God.
You are a fellow heir with Christ.
You suffer with Christ in order to be glorified with Him (suffering is never a means without an end).
You were saved in hope, which is unseen, which you groan inwardly over and are waiting eagerly for—at the same time.
You are helped by the Spirit in your weakness.
You are prayed for by the Spirit, with groans too deep for words to convey them.
Your heart is searched out by the Spirit, who prays for you in perfect accordance to the will of God.
You love God.
Your good is being fought for—in prayer and in the will of God woven into your days.
You are called according to His purpose.
You were foreknown.
You were predestined to be made into the very image of the Son’s likeness.
You were called.
You were justified.
You were glorified.
Your God is for you.
Your God gave up His Son for you.
Your God wants to graciously give you all things through Christ.
Your God justifies. You cannot be charged.
Your Christ intercedes for you. You cannot be condemned.
You cannot—by anything—ever be separated from His love for you.
You are a super-conquerer through Him who loves you.
You cannot—by anything—ever be separated from His love for you.