by Ryan Eckhoff
As is my weekday pattern during the school-year, I was driving our family’s celestial blue minivan to daycare with our four year old and 8 month old girls in the back strapped into their car seats. As I listened to the same musical tones over and over again coming from a toy in the rear I asked myself “Who am I?”
Just a handful of years earlier I was a Special Operations solider in the United States Army who was flying in helicopters and jumping out of aircraft. I was well trained in the areas of land navigation, advanced first aid, hand-to-hand combat and weaponry all while being challenged with intense physical conditioning. Part of the unit’s creed states, “Service in the 160th is a calling only a few will answer for the mission is constantly demanding and hard. And when the impossible has been accomplished the only reward is another mission that no one else will try.” Serving the country in such a capacity required a lot of discipline and all service branches revere discipline. I did not realize it then, but I sinfully enjoyed the level of prestige it brought to be part of such a unit and I found my identity in the accolades I received.
As I pondered my life and career in the Army compared to what it is now, I felt as if several of my ‘man-cards’ had been taken away. Therefore, in an effort to reclaim some semblance of identity, I thought through numerous sectors of my life where I might be able to “find” who I am. However, everything I thought of was only a part of who I am now or who I used to be. For example, having served in the military I am a veteran, but I can’t stake my current identity on something I once was. I was looking for the portion of my identity that would transcend every aspect of my life.
Frantically grasping for something to which I could anchor myself and say “I am 100% X” I landed with an answer that I should have begun with. Previously I had been evaluating my life on worldly perceptions that are based upon outward realities (occupation, hobby, possessions, appearance, etc). I failed to remember that if I am looking for an aspect of my identity that permeates all of who I am than I should be looking to the one who created everything.
Like the steadiness and ever brightening light of the morning sunrise was the realization and insight that my identity lay with Christ. The fullness of this thought was an overwhelming relief. First, God welcomes and accepts us at all times. Unlike gods fashioned out of the minds and hands of men the True God is always on duty (1 Kings 18:16-39). Second, as His adopted son and servant, I always have a purpose. Jesus gives the command in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything He commanded. At Stonebridge we believe it is our individual responsibility to walk along side each person we meet as they take their next step with Jesus. This is a mission that is never complete and always in demand. As Jesus stated, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” Third and finally, my commitment to follow Christ is not limited by time, location, age or any other factor. While I have the privilege to work in the church, my responsibility as a Christian is not contracted to Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. No matter my season of life, regardless of where I reside, or the time of day, the light of Christ permeates within me always!
I am 100% at all times and all places a follower of Jesus Christ now and forevermore! My identity is found in the one who has a voice like thunder and is clothed with majesty, splendor, honor and glory. He is the one who established the earth and fixed its dimensions. He has tamed the sea and determined its boundaries. He clears the way for lightning and sends rain to satisfy the land. He puts wisdom in the heart and provides understanding to the mind. He is able to look on the proud and humble them. He has the power to trample the wicked and imprison them in the grave.
Job 38:1-42:6 is one of my favorite sections of Scripture! Today it reminds me that while I no longer actively serve with the Army’s Special Operations Command I do serve a God who can do MUCH more! This day, may you remember your Creator and the one who gave His life so that we may find our identify in the great I AM (Exodus 3:13-14).