“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” (Mark Twain)
Our ancestors hold the key to our identity, just as God holds the key to our purpose. We can go our own way, believing that we know what is best for us. If that does not include a relationship with God, we can easily be derailed and end up in a far different place than we expected when we first started. Ironically, surrender to God is the first step in self-discovery.
4 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5 But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. 6 So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:7 “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.”
John 7:16-18; 28-29
16 Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17 Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18 Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.
28 Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
“Our discovery of God is, in a way, God’s discovery of us. We cannot go to heaven to find Him because we have no way of knowing where heaven is or what it is. He comes down from heaven and finds us. He looks at us from the depths of His own infinite actuality, which is everywhere, and His seeing us gives us a new being and a new mind in which we also discover Him.” (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, p. 39).
The journey of self-discovery often takes us down many rabbit holes as we assert our independence and look for our own identity. For some, that takes the form of rebellion against the values and expectations of our home. Sooner or later, life causes us to come to terms with our roots. In understanding who we come from, we better understand ourselves.
When I look at my parents I see a love of music, love of God, loyalty and faithfulness, hard work and generosity. I didn’t always appreciate the feedback they gave me as I was growing up, mistakenly believing that they didn’t understand my gifts and passions. I explored various possibilities, but in the end, I chose a life that was very similar to one that they would have chosen for me. I came from them, and they knew me better than I knew myself. My children would likely say something similar about me.
We come from God; he created us and knows our weaknesses and strengths. We rebel at our peril. In him we find peace. Our true self is revealed in our relationship to the one who made us. Sin is separation from that self-awareness because it keeps us from our source. Faith is returning to our heavenly father because we believe, that in him, we will find our true purpose and contentment.
Lord, you know us better than we know ourselves. We run from you when we are afraid that you will hold us back and keep us from enjoying life. But when we seek your will, we find true joy and happiness. You know us, just as parents knows their child. We trust you to give us purpose. Amen.