Whether you believe it or not, your life is a gift from God. God thought of you before the creation of the whole world and, when he created you, he made you in his very own image (Ephesians 1:4; Genesis 1:26).
Even now, God knows more about you than you know about yourself. He even has a plan for you – perhaps one you can’t see – but a plan 'to give you hope and a future' (Jeremiah 29:11). Your life and death are ultimately in his hands.
We enter into God’s hands in a special way when we are baptised. Through water and the word, God calls us into his family. We are enveloped in the love of God, as God’s own precious child. Our identity is made secure.
As the author Gilbert Meilaender writes: ‘In baptism God sets his hand upon us, calls us by name, and thereby establishes our uniquely individual identity and destiny'.¹
This is an important reality to reflect on. We are so often tempted by the world to find our identity in other more transient things: our job; our level of education; our sexual orientation or relationship status; our family; our appearance; and our skills. Perhaps we even find identity in our failures.
Yet to build our identity on such things is to build on shaky ground. These things come and go. Rather, God calls us to root ourselves in something deep and secure. Something unchangeable – God himself, through the person of Jesus Christ.
This is a profound truth which deserves much reflection.
Gilbert Meilaender tells us: ‘We are most ourselves not when we seek to direct and control our destiny but when we recognize and admit that our life is grounded in and sustained by God’.²
Understanding who we are in Christ, we are free to stop turning in on ourselves in an attempt to define 'who we really are'. We can instead receive the things that life throws our way – whether it is life as a married or a single person, children or no children, whole or broken families, and all of our unique gifts (and even weaknesses) – as gifts from God, to use for his divine purposes.
Sometimes it is hard to see how our life, and the lives of others, are intended for God's purposes. We can be tempted to view ourselves and the tasks before us as ordinary or worthless. Yet this is a lie. All people have a place in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), and God works through each and every one of us in our day to day lives, including through our seemingly mundane tasks.
So, the next time someone does something kind for you or serves you in some way, consider this: God is working through that person to bless and serve you. Or the next time you do an act of kindness or service to someone around you, consider this: God is working through you to bless and serve others. How incredible is that! Moreover, when we love and serve others, we also love and serve Christ himself (Matthew 25:40).
¹ ‘Bioethics: A Primer for Christians’ by Lutheran bioethicist Gilbert Meilaender (2005), p2.
² ‘Bioethics: A Primer for Christians’ by Lutheran bioethicist Gilbert Meilaender (2005), p2. This book is a must read for anyone serious about understanding bioethics from a uniquely Lutheran persecutive. It is a short primer, with chapters on various topics relating to life and bioethics.