Do Over, Session 4: Cut to the Chase

 By Jennie Allen

 Your true identity is found in who God says you are.

cuttothechaseIdentity crisis. It’s easy to have one because we build our identities on things that move — things that aren’t dependable or constant. We chase the wrong things.

To chase the heart of God, we must first figure out what other things we’re already chasing — things of the world, things that distract us, or things that pull us from the heart of God. One of the reasons why we chase the things of the world is that we’re looking for strong identities. We want to know that we matter and that we’re unique. We all need to know why our lives count and what sets us apart.

I remember innocently sitting in science class one day during my sophomore year of high school, waiting for class to start, when two guys known for bullying turned around and decided to make me their target. I don’t remember what they said, but I can still picture where I was sitting and what I was feeling. I felt like I was spinning and couldn’t put my feet down. As they laughed about who they perceived me to be, all I could think was, Who am I?

I knew they didn’t know me and what they were saying was careless and untrue, but I didn’t know me, and I didn’t know what was true. Shortly after that experience, I met God. It wasn’t until He began to undo and define me that I finally could stop spinning and put my feet down.

In Scripture, David lived with a strong sense of identity. That self-recognition began by his believing fully what God said about him. He was unconcerned with appearances and image; he was rooted in a secure identity.

To chase the heart of God, we first must figure out what other things we’re already chasing.

The identities we’re chasing will fail us again and again, but the identity that God gives, if we’ll grasp it, is substantial and changes everything. As long as I’m looking into myself for my identity, I’ll either be self-righteous about how great I am, which is inaccurate, or distraught by the reality of the wreck I actually am.

Psalm 144:4 says, “Man is like a breath.” It’s not wise to stand on breath. So I hear God say to me, That’s silly; good luck with that. You feel insecure, Jennie, because you’re standing on breath. Not only are you a breath, you’re a really messed-up one. You’re completely depraved and sinful.

But, I hear God continue, If you’d stand on Me and believe what I say about you, how much I want to do with you and how close we could be, I’ll fulfill that deep desire for you to matter. I’ll comfort you when you’re criticized and don’t measure up. I’ll be your portion forever. I am enough because I built that hole in your heart for Me to live in. You chase things you think will fit. But nothing else will fit — only Me.

If our true worth and identities come from something so solid and eternal as God Himself, we don’t have to pretend when we’re imperfect. We don’t stand on our accomplishments, personality, or performance. We stand securely on the nature of an infinite, loving God. We don’t have to manage an image or pretend we’re all right. We’re broken and imperfect — and that’s all right.

Ephesians 1:4-6 says, “In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.”

Here are tough but vital questions I have to ask myself: Why am I chasing after God? Is it to get God to love me or to impress the people around me? Or is it a response to God’s love for me?

To chase the heart of God, I’ve got to surrender all my desires and expectations, and simply say, God, it’s not what I want but what You want. I want Your desires for my life. I want Your truth to be the basis of my identity.

And when everything else falls away, we see God more clearly. While we’re running after God, in reality, He’s the One running after us. God chased us down through Jesus Christ. Knowing that our infinite God is running after us to save us changes and wrecks every other piece of our lives. God is chasing us — despite the cost — to make us a part of His family.

So how can you live like David did and allow God to chase you down? Most of my life, I’ve either been working hard to please God or feeling guilty for not pleasing Him. But David wasn’t driven by that struggle. Something about David’s understanding of God was different. He experienced something most of us long for more than any other thing: He experienced God’s love for him. There was no measuring up, just a God who loved him and saved him.

In Psalm 40:1-2, David says, “I waited patiently for the LORD, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and He set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.”

I was in a pit, and my striving to get out only buried me deeper. Then God reached in for me. Courage, obedience, assurance, and repentance come only from a God who reached into a pit to save us. Those qualities aren’t things to try to attain; they’re the results of knowing our God who saved us.

We don’t have to strive to measure up. God loves us and wants us, not our performance. My prayer is that you’ll chase the heart of God, and in the process, know how much He’s already chasing you.

Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!”

May we chase God today with the same faith we’ll have the day our faith becomes sight. I have a feeling every other pursuit will feel futile on that day. Let’s live now like heaven is coming. •

Knowing that our infinite God is running after us to save us changes and wrecks every other piece of our lives.

Jennie Allen’s newest DVD-based Bible study is Chase: Chasing After the Heart of God (Thomas Nelson). She’s also the author of Anything and Stuck. Jennie graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a master’s in biblical studies and is blessed to serve alongside her husband, Zac, in ministry. They have four children, including their youngest son, who was recently adopted from Rwanda.

homelife darinThis article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of HomeLife. Subscribe

 

Comments

  1. I don’t know when I read an article that touched me so as, “Cut to the Chase”. It really made me think of all the things I’ve been chasing in life. I’ve been told that I have great talent and abilities in Art and Music. I have kept that, my education and career in the forefront of my life for years. It’s funny that I’ve been using that talent in my church since I’ve been a child up to my middle age stage in life and still I’m praying to the LORD to fill my heart with His joy again. But what you said in the article about believing what God says about you and how He has put that hole in your heart that only He can fill is a humble and great wonder for me. Within the past few months I’ve just given up. I’ve surrendered to Christ my will, desirers, time, talent, abilities, education and career. These things left me with emptiness and loneliness. I’m realizing none of my efforts can fill that hole in my heart. Only Christ. I’m going to share this article with my Sunday School Class this Sunday. Thank you!!!

    • Rebecca McMullen says:

      Like you, Ms. B., I really liked the idea of God filling the hole that he created. As a college professor, I am often overwhelmed with the service and scholarly demands required in order to move to full professor. Teaching a full load, working in my husband’s ministry, being a responsive mom, and responding to an elderly mom requires spinning so many plates. Needless to say, I’ve dropped several plates and broken them along the way. After reading this article and the Session 4 lesson: An Identity You Must Embrace, I now realize that I must see my identity through Christ. That is, I cannot attach the broken plates. ( intentional and unintentional) to my identity. I must allow God to fill the hole that He created for me and to cease packing it with non-constants and emotions that just don’t fit. These often result in a trickery dichotomy. That is, the enemy tricks us into feeling excessive pride or extreme depression, but a perfect fit adds no sorrow.. I really enjoyed reading this! Dr. B.

  2. Great article.

  3. WOW! I really enjoyed this article. I have been in a constant battle inside of trying to work to please God versus feeling guilty because of failure to. The enemy has used this to distract me, shackle me, and make me ineffective. It is such freedom to know that I am loved by God completely. I love the statement in this article about David understanding there was “NO MEASURING UP, JUST A GOD WHO LOVED HIM AND SAVED HIM.” I know I have heard statements like this before, but suddenly it is eye opening and I see myself as this person who is engulfed in “measuring up.” God loves me and I desire to live in freedom in His love. It is all about Him! I pray that from this day forward that this life be lived in surrender to His Love, His will, His ways, His desires, and His work!

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