Finish this for me "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but..." One of the great lies of Satan. It is amazing the power that words have over our emotions, our futures and at the core of it all, our identity. I was talking to one of the young adults that I have an opportunity to walk with in life, and as we talked about the struggles that come from being ignored, we stepped back in time to when they were younger and had to deal with the name calling and put downs of life that come in our early teens. Those simple words of "nobody wants you here" or "you're not any good at this" can become a recurring theme for a lifetime of rejection and subsequent negative self-image... IF, we don't learn the truth.
It is perhaps on the more philosophical side of things, but we did not create ourselves, therefore we don't get to claim or create our own identity. We can say all the nice things to ourselves, but we know that those self help words often run hollow and don't sustain a positive image. In a biological way you could argue that we were created by our parents, which is why words of encouragement or discouragement run so deeply for children. But here is where our passage takes us and what gives us a new foundation to see our true identities. That before we were even formed in our mother's womb, before our moms and dads were even born, God KNEW ME!! He is the one who started the creation, he is the one who put the world in motion. He is the one who can see all of time and all relationships. And it is Him ALONE, that can actually name you and me! We can say with the psalmist:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. - Psalm 139
If you find you have forgotten who you are. If you hear the voices of your past bringing shame, rejection and a condemning spirit. If the voice screaming loudest to you is the voice inside your head. Spend some time with Psalm 139 and find joy in the realization that NONE of these other characters can actually give you those names of shame, failure, and rejection. You are called child, son, daughter, adopted heir of the Most High God. Reborn from death to life in the hearing of God's story and history - the very word of God. Washed and sealed in the waters of baptism. To have intimate Common Union with the God who loves and redeems you and to be brought into Community with others who share that Communion. To be humbled at our many many failings, but to be amazed at the constant pursuit of God's forgiving and redeeming Grace given freely to us. I can't believe it without the faith the Holy Spirit gives, but he gives and gives and gives again.
Oh sure, our actions can be judged and held to standards, but not our core identity. The 12 year old bully never had the power to name you. The angry parent (and I have been one) can't name you. Your perfectionist boss doesn't have the authority to name you. Even your doting fans and admirers can't name you. Your greatest enemy Satan, has no power to name you Only the God of scripture, the one True God, the great "I Am" and your ultimate creator, has the power to name you and to give you your foundational identity. He speaks truth when he calls you wayward and sinful and he speaks true when he calls you son and daughter. Because of Jesus Christ and what he earned for us when we could not, this is the foundation of his love that leads God to call us his boy, his girl. That is what you are and that is what he longs for you to know and truly believe.
He loves us, Oh how he loves!