“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19
My father told me I was Italian. Growing up in Las Vegas our family would go to the local Italian-American Club and eat Italian food with the other Italian families. My father spoke Italian and competed in Bocce Ball tournaments. But, although we had dark skin and dark hair, we were not Italian. It was a lie.
My true identity was revealed right before my wedding, seven years after my father’s death. Having been estranged from her brother for thirty-years, my father’s sister, Aunt Lee, traveled to Oregon from Rhode Island to attend my wedding. We connected after my father died but had never met. Aunt Lee told us that my father left their family as a young man, cutting off contact with them for reasons too sordid to explain here. In spite of the circumstances she was excited to meet us and asked all kinds of questions. Photo albums from our childhood and newspaper clippings of my dad playing in Bocce Ball tournaments were sprawled on the table. It wasn’t long before her brow furrowed in confusion as her dark eyes darted from picture to picture.
“Do you think you’re Italian?” she asked.
“Yes. We are Italian. Why?” I answered.
“Because you’re not, she beamed, You’re Portuguese!”
Aunt Lee’s brown eyes were laughing as she spoke; then her round face revealed a smile. She was amused but I was not. It was shocking. This statement changed my perception of myself and of my father. My earthly father lied to me about my identity. What else did he lie about? Later in the conversation Aunt Lee told us they grew up on a little farm, not in Reno, Nevada like my father claimed, but in Fall River, Massachusetts. We also found out he had been married twice before and had three other children. Why all the lies? We may never know my father’s motives but, either way, he was not who he said he was and I am not who he said I was either. My father defined me with lies.
So, who am I? This identity crisis is one many struggle with even after coming to know Christ. We are all targets of well aimed, fiery arrows launched from the enemy’s bow carrying messages that are meant to define us and undermine God’s Word. They are all lies too. The problem is they seem to to be true because of life experiences. For example, when the “You are not wanted” arrow comes flying overhead it can be difficult to argue against if we’ve suffered rejection. We may even let it pierce our heart because it’s what we know. Therefore, believing God’s Word over any other source is key if we are to live in true freedom. If we know what it says about His character and how He defines us as His children we will be able to recognize lies when confronted with them. You know, the ones that start with, “Did God really say…” Our defense is to love the Lord with all our heart, mind and soul, believing Him above all else, which is faith. But how can we truly know and love someone we don’t spend time with? His word is His love letter to each of His children and His character is defined by the cross, not our circumstances.
Let’s be thankful to the Lord today that he is “not a man” and for His Word which is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Only He defines you in truth and love. May we open His love letter, allowing God alone to answer the question, “Who am I?”
But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12