“Who do YOU say that I am?” Jesus’ question to Peter reverberates through history and into my own heart, requiring an answer from me as surely as from Peter.
Some days, my answer is strong and determined: “You are Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Some days my answer reiterates the strong affirmations we speak in Advent: “You are Emmanuel, God with us. You are Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.” These are mountaintop days, when my head and heart work in conjunction, the knowing and believing wrapped up together into one.
Other days, though, my answer is quieter and discouraged because life has harshly struck my soul. “Who do YOU say that I am?” When pain scrapes my life raw, my determined answer to Who He is is often followed by a desperate sentence about who I am or what I feel.
“You are Christ” – but I’m in crisis.
“You are the Living God” – but I can’t live like this.
“You are Emmanuel” – but I feel like I’m going through hell.
“You are Wonderful” – but I’m wondering how I’m going to survive.
…and so on.
2018 was full of such times: strong determination juxtaposed to serious despair. And any one particular day could easily hold both ends of the spectrum.
However, wherever I fluctuated between determination or discouragement, God’s character never changed. He could handle my statements and sentences, and that gave me strength to handle my situations. He is Who He says He is, and His steady character always, always affected my character. Knowing Who He is helped me be who He created me to be. Many a day in 2018, I had to go with what I know about Him, not what I felt about me. Many a night, I fell asleep only because I meditated on His identity, not on mine. Many a week, I had to choose what God revealed about Himself in His Word rather than what my circumstances showed. And though I may falter and fear and fail, He does not.
He said He is Emmanuel, and I truly experienced that every step of the way in 2018, not because of who I am, but because of Who He is.
So, here at the beginning of 2019, as His question reverberates from Peter to me, this is my answer:
“I believe You are Who You say You are, Lord. You are close to the brokenhearted. You are strength for the weak. You are light in my darkness and hope in my hopelessness. You are Savior, Redeemer, Warrior and Friend, and I cannot live any moment, any day or any year without You. Because all this is true, I will SEEK YOU every day moment by moment, and then I will turn around and SPEAK YOU into the lives of those You’ve entrusted to me, so that they too may come to know Who You are.”
How I answer the question about who Jesus is ultimately leads to the answer to the question about who I am. It also leads to the answer about what I speak into the lives of those He has entrusted to me. My God never changes, and the more I know about Him, the more I can be who He wants me to be – as a mother, a wife, a friend, a leader, or whatever other hat I happen to be wearing.
Moment by moment, day by day, year by year, what we really believe about God’s identity shines through our own character and identity. This is the truth we seek and the truth we turn around and speak.
In the midst of all life’s queries, it is good – so good – to hold on to the answer to His one most important question.