I have grown up in the church my whole life, but never really understood what it meant to place my identity in God. Through high school, I labeled myself in many different ways: as an athlete, as an honors student, as a photographer, and as a musician. For a long time I was searching for a group of people or an activity that I could place my identity in. Every time I tried, I ended up feeling less happy and more confused about who I really was. This led me to become even more frustrated and it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I began to engage in a personal relationship with God. On Easter Sunday in 2015 I spontaneously decided to be baptized at my home church and decided that day to live my life for God. When I rose from the water I physically felt a burden being lifted off of my shoulders. I felt serenity and comfort knowing that my life was now in God’s hands and I didn’t have to wonder what my purpose was anymore.
College has been a very difficult time for me as I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression which has caused me to doubt God. Freshman year I was frustrated with God and felt like He had left me or didn’t care to help me, but I realized something pivotal this year. God never left me, I had left him because I had started placing my identity in things other than Him just like I had done in high school. This year I had a very important mentor in my life point out that I had been trying to live for myself instead of living the free life that God offers us. It didn’t really hit me until Winter Conference how my pride has caused me to distance myself from God.
At this conference, the speaker Mike Donehey defined Sin as “building your identity on anything other than God” which really hit me hard. I believed because I was going to church, trying to be nice to people, and leading in Cru that I was fulfilling my purpose in God’s eyes. This made me start to rethink some fundamental things about who I was and how I had been living my life up to that point. I had veered away from having a relationship with God. Since then I have continually reminded myself that “I am a son of God,” a firm foundation to build my identity on which brings me great peace, comfort, and strength. It is a daily battle and conscious decision to live my life for God and it is by no means easy, but the inner life that I have experienced from it has changed everything. The sense of identity I have derived from being a disciple of Jesus is so much more solid than when I tried to live for myself and make up my own purpose. I want to leave you with one last thought: what would your life be like if you placed your identity in who God made you to be rather than what it is you do?
Just like you heard a story of a life changed by Jesus, This could be your story too and it begins by inviting Jesus Christ into your life by faith. The greatest story happened two thousand years ago when God sent his son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, and to die as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This righteousness of God is given “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22) so that we can have a personal relationship with God both now and after we die in heaven.
Your story could change in a moment. The Bible says “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This could be your story. You can receive Jesus Christ right now by faith. Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” You can invite Jesus into your life right now by praying this prayer.