“What do you want to be when you grow up?” There seem to a rare, lucky few who actually know the answer to that question, even from a young age. You know, kids that say they want to be a doctor and end up actually becoming one. I was not one of those people. In elementary school I knew I was going to be a veterinarian. I liked animals so it just seemed natural. My girls had various aspirations growing up like nursing, teaching, being an artist, etc. I’ll never forget the surprise and giggles we got as a family when my youngest (about 10 at the time) once told us at the dinner table that she wanted to be a monster truck driver. I think she’s changed her mind since then…I think.
Throughout the rest of my school years I had no clue. I changed my major three times in college from psychology to elementary education and finally to social work. I’ve never wanted to be a social worker, however. I know – weird! It was the closest major to what I was interested in: People, dealing with people, why they behave the way they do, relationships, etc. I have to admit that the things I learned definitely helped me in whatever roles I’ve played the last 22 years.
Even at this point in life I wonder sometimes, what am I really supposed to be doing? What am I best at? Who am I, God? Who am I really? I crave purpose and to “fit” – not fitting as in being popular, fitting as in filling a role where the gifts God’s given me are just what’s needed in that spot to bless other people and do good. How I sometimes wished when I was in college that God would just pin me up against the wall outside Decker or the Fine Arts building and lay it on me, “Mimi, this is who you are. This is what you should do. So do it.”
While reading in Matthew 16 today (The Message) I came across a great passage. I’ve read it many times before but hadn’t thought of it this way. Jesus and his disciples were walking down a path headed to a new town where Jesus could teach, heal, and minister to people. He was warning them about the hypocrisy and influence of people like the pharisees who had just tried to corner him into proving who He was. They cared more about their position and legalities than being repentant, humble and surrendered to God. Then Jesus turned to the men around and behind him and asked, “What are the people saying about me? What have you heard? Who do they say I am?” They gave a few different answers, “Elijah.” “John the Baptist come back to life.” “A prophet.” Then he looked around at them more intently and asked, “What about each of you? Who do YOU say I am?” I can imagine that some of them hesitated, maybe stammered for a moment. I don’t think they’d be able to look Jesus in the eye and say anything but what they really believed and felt in their hearts. Simon Peter, however, spoke up with confidence and enthusiasm, “You’re the Messiah! The Christ. You’re the living God’s Son.” Jesus smiled and exclaimed “Simon, you’re blessed! That knowledge didn’t come from within you. God Himself opened your eyes to who I really am. Now I’m going to tell you who you really are. I’m giving you a new name: Peter, the rock. I’m going to build my church on you and that confession of faith. It will be so powerful and resilient that hell itself won’t be able to quell it.” I wonder if Peter shook his head thinking, “Are you sure you meant to say that to me?” It would take the rest of his life for it to all unfold. Who he really was came out gradually as God led Him.
When Peter confessed who Jesus really was, Jesus told him who HE really was. Maybe that progression is written there for a reason, to help us have a clue. I must first acknowledge Jesus is God, He’s number One, He’s my Savior, He’s King. Once I do, He’ll reveal to me the real me, the one He made me to be. It’s as if our true, real selves are hidden until we accept Jesus and trust in Him. The revealing of our God-given purpose is hinged upon our step of faith, proclaiming in front of everyone, “You’re the Messiah! You’re MY King. You’re God’s Son and without your forgiveness I’d be lost forever.”
If you want to know what God wants you to be when you “grow up:” Step one: Tell Jesus you believe in Him, that you know who He really is. Step two: Listen as He gives you a new name: “hopeful” instead of “discouraged,” “saved” instead of “lost,” “alive” not “dead,” “loved” instead of “alone.” And over the rest of your life as you follow Him, He’ll tell you all about who you really are.
He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” Matthew 16:15-18 The Message