A popular song asks “Who are you when I’m not looking?” The implication in the question is that the person in question is someone different in private than she is in public. Is this normal? Is this acceptable?
Who are we when no one is looking? To answer that question, we have to have a sense of Identity and Destiny. We have to know who we are and where we are going.
How do we acquire a sense of identity? Who tells us who we are? More importantly, who tells us who we are not? To be sure, we are shaped and molded by our authority figures (parents, teachers), our mentors, and of course, the Bible. Think about your life. Think about those who have shaped your identity.
What do you want to be when you grow up? is a question that everyone has asked and been asked. Why is this a universal question? Identity leads to Destiny. If I do not know who I am, I cannot be who I am. To clarify, if I do not know my identity (who I am), I cannot achieve my destiny.
Destiny is defined as a sequence of events that is inevitable and unchangeable. It has also been defined as a predetermined course of events. Some memorable quotes in literature concerning Destiny:
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
o “Frank Outlaw” in Farmer’s Digest, Vol. 42 (1978), p. 20; also in A Treasury of Days : 365 Thoughts on the Art of Living (1983) by Dee Danner Barwick, p. 23
We can’t run from who we are. Our destiny chooses us.
o Abe Petrovsky in Rounders (1998) written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman
In Numbers 22 – 24, we have the story of Balaam and Balak. Balak was the king of the Moabites. Balaam was a prophet, and Balak solicited him to come and curse the Israelites who were sojourning through his land. Balak was afraid of the Jews. They were mighty in number, and he was distressed. Balak thought if he could get the prophet to pronounce a curse on this multitude, Moab would not be invaded and conquered by Israel.
Balaam was very cognizant of who he was. He knew that he was a prophet. Balak sent messengers consisting of the elders of Moab to entreat Balaam to come and curse the Jews. He offered Balaam many riches and honors. We see in verse 12 of chapter 22, God says to Balaam “don’t go, and don’t curse.” We would think that Balaam being a prophet would have had no trouble being obedient. However, if we read the story, we see that he was sidetracked by his authority figures.
As the story continues, we see that Balak was not happy with Balaam’s refusal, so he sent even more honorable emissaries than before. First he sent elders; now he sends princes. Again, Balaam refuses to go, citing divine orders from God. Balak sends even more distinguished princes the third time, and this time, Balaam does agree to go with them, but says that he will only say what God tells him to say.
Reading between the lines, we can see that God told him definitely not to go, and not to curse. We see Balak putting pressure on him in the form of dignitaries, honors, and riches. Balaam faltered in his identity. He forgot he was a prophet of God; not a hireling. What would we do? Would we have succumbed to the pressure of our ‘ruler’ who used flattery and the promise of great wealth?
Fortunately for Balaam, God put a donkey in his path who could see the Angel of the Lord. The donkey would not let Balaam get close enough to the angel for the angel to kill him. God is angry when people forget their identity. When we forget our identity, we miss out on our destiny.
In verse 34, Balaam repented, and apologized for missing God. God tells him to go with the princes, but to only say what God says. Balaam hears a divine revelation concerning the children of Israel. As we continue to read the story, in Chapter 23, verse 26, Balaam is resolved. He tells Balak: “Told not I thee, saying, ‘all that the Lord speaketh, that I must do?’” Here he is reasserting his identity and destiny. Paraphrasing– he is saying: I am a prophet of the Lord, and I will only tell you what God says. You can keep your money and your enticements. I am not for hire.
As the story continues, we see from Chapter 24:1-13, Balaam does not fall victim to temptation. He listens to God, repeats what God says, even with the pressures in the political arena were strong against him. He not only blesses Israel, but he also prophesies concerning the Messiah. He reaffirms his identity, and he reconnects with his destiny.
In Matthew, Chapter 4, Jesus came face to face with the problem of Identity and Destiny. I am sure you remember the story. This is a story of Christ and His temptation. As we look at the story, we see that part of the temptation is to question Christ’s Identity and His Destiny.
In verse 6, Satan tries to undermine Christ’s Identity: IF you are the son of God…… If Satan could get Christ to question his Identity, then He might never have achieved His Destiny. In verses 8 and 9, Satan tries to offer Christ his Destiny, but at the expense of the Cross. If Christ had not been sure of who He was, He might not have fulfilled the Destiny the Father had for Him.
How do we measure up? Do we know who we are? Do we know where we are going? Just like the scripture in Matthew, Satan will use people to get you to doubt your identity. If he can blur your identity, maybe he can stop your destiny.
“Who are you, when I’m not looking?” Develop a strong sense of self. A strong sense of Identity will lead you to your Destiny.
Until next time…