At the Mercy of the Waves

“…it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself…It is the Lord who judges me.” 1 Corinthians 4:3-4

Today as you wake up and gradually move through the day it might feel like you are being tugged in about 100 different directions. This is pretty normal. Everyone feels like this.

You might walk around at your school and think, “Who am I, anyway? Am I a ‘smart kid’ or a ‘jock’ or a ‘hipster’?” Whatever the categories might be in your world, you probably know what I’m talking about. The question is: what defines who you are? Is it what you buy, or how you perform, or the grades you make?

Now, there’s nothing particularly wrong with feeling the pull towards fitting into one category or another, but there is a danger in letting the world ultimately define who you are. There’s a danger in simply being shaped and formed by the opinion of what your friends think about you (or even what your grades or extracurricular activities say about you).

Henri Nouwen, a popular Christian author, puts it this way: “To whom do I belong? To God or to the world? Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirit, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.”

We’ve all felt like we are on that tiny boat being tossed back and forth by the waves, haven’t we? Maybe today you should stop and think about what makes you feel down and what makes you excited. What are the waves that make the boat you are in tip from side to side? Do you live simply for the praise of your friends, or parents, or teachers? Or is there something bigger, something better that tells you who you are?

Listen, the good news for you today is that your identity is secure in the finished work of Jesus.

What does that mean? It means your value is not dependent upon how good you are at algebra, or how current you are with fashion. No, who you are is wrapped up in who Jesus says you are! And Jesus says, “I cannot love you any more or any less than I do at this very moment! Your identity is secure simply because you are defined by MY love for you and nothing else!”

What would it look like for you to believe that today? What would it look like to say no to the things that beg you to find all your value and worth in them, and instead to see that you already have everything you are looking for in Christ? I bet it would look like a boat that could never be tipped over, no matter how big the waves became.

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