Who Am I?

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But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" (Ex. 3:11)

So David said to Saul, "Who am I, and what is my life or my father's family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?" (1 Sam. 18:18)

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In both stories, the speakers (Moses and David) had trouble reconciling their calling to a privileged position with their identity as men of low station. Moses was an old shepherd with no leadership experience; how could he possibly stand up to Pharaoh? David was a young man only recently removed from watching his father's sheep; he did not have the pedigree to be the son-in-law of the king. 

In both cases, the backgrounds of these men had shaped their self-perception as nobodies who had little to offer. Both were men of character and faith, no doubt; but there were natural limits to what they could accomplish--or so they believed. 

The question that both men asked, "Who am I?," is one with which all of us struggle. Maybe we came from dysfunctional families, and struggle with forming healthy relationships. Perhaps our educational opportunities were limited, so we feel inferior to those with a more polished resume. Or it could be that a track record of failure in our past limits future opportunities. Whatever the details, our past has shaped a self-image that hinders forward progress. We are constrained by our own sense of diminished worth. 

In times past, self-respect was enhanced by our place in a larger community--the extended family, ethnic heritage, or civic organizations. But in modern Western culture, these support structures have largely collapsed, having been replaced by a dependence on feelings as the ultimate arbiter of personal value. As a result, people--especially young people--are more lonely and insecure than ever. No wonder they are so easily deceived by the social contagions that are wreaking havoc in their lives. 

God has provided an answer to the "Who am I?" question in two resources: Christ and the church. In Jesus Christ, the individual finds reassurance that God loves him or her ("who loved me, and gave Himself for me," Gal. 2:20). In the church, the individual finds a community of fellow lost souls whose common faith in the Savior binds them together in a support group like no other. In this close-knit family, they find healing, hope, and encouragement. 

Moses and David went on to achieve remarkable feats of greatness because they trusted the One who knew them better than they knew themselves. We must do the same.