Once, more than 10 years after the fact, I saw a notice on TV that the 1980 Pontiac transmission was part of a recall and if I could furnish documentation of ownership and the transmission failure, I could receive reimbursement for replacing it. I could, I did and sure enough, I was paid for the transmission, which my late husband had replaced in Memphis in 1985.
Looking at that pile of paper, I knew the shredder was going to get a workout, because I didn’t want any trace of my identity to be floating around. For hours I fed the paper-gobbler-up, emptied it and shredded some more. I ended up with two big trash bags full of little bits of paper.
Just think — I had every receipt for everything I had bought. And that didn’t include what I didn’t destroy from the last six years. That will come later as time goes by. Does that make me a hoarder?
As I scooped up the last from the study floor, I thought, “There goes years of my life stuffed into two trash bags.”
With a sign of relief, I thought, “That’s only my temporal life. My life in Christ is still intact.”
God “shredded” my sinful life a long time ago to be known no more. And I don’t have to worry about identity theft. My identity is established in Heaven and no one can take it away. What a reassuring truth. The wonderful thing is God knows me and I know Him.
Identity is very important in this world. It can make the difference in where you live, where you go and how successful you are. For the most part, a person inherits their identity from the name of his father, but there comes a time in every person’s life when he steps into his own identity. It comes with proving himself, building a reputation or through associations. It can be good or it can be bad, but whatever you make of it, it’s yours.
Spiritual identity is even more important. In the fourth chapter of his letter to the Galatians, Paul tried to help them recognize just exactly who they had been and who they became.
“You have lived in slavery,” he told them. I came and preached Jesus Christ to you, and you were given your freedom.”
Where once they had worshiped idols and were enslaved to sin, they were plucked from bondage and given a whole new life. “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
Paul reminds them of the new “identity” they have. “Now you are sons — heirs of God through Christ. Why are you acting like servants?” he asks.
He goes on to tell them they should be rejoicing and crying with exultation. This was what was promised to Abraham — this was in the covenant God made with him. Now it is fulfilled. Now you, he says, have the privilege to be partakers in this salvation.
How easy it was to forget their identity. How easy it was to lose faith. Paul admonished them to remember what he had preached to them — not that he mattered, but who mattered was Christ, and he didn’t want them to ever forget that fact. To deny Christ was to lose their identity. How sad it is when people do not know who they are.
Despite the trash bags filled with remnants of this life, I know where my “real” records are kept and I know of “whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that I have committed until that day.”