We were all in our twenties at one time. That place of struggling to find out who we are and where we fit in the world. McKayla has been a guest writer in the past and we love her honesty. I find that I always learn a thing or two from this spunky young woman. And I'm sure you will too!
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“McKayla, why do you try to produce good fruit?”
“What on good earth are you talking about?” I asked my roommate. She has been someone that has poured a lot of truth, love, and wisdom in my life but with this question out of the blue, I thought maybe a little too much paint from construction next door had seeped through the window and was affecting her brain.
“You heard me; why are you straining to produce good fruit?”
“I honestly have no idea what you are talking about,” I replied.
She began explaining that it was a metaphor from a sermon she heard from one of our favorite God-fearing speakers, Dan Mohler. “God has already defined you as a good tree. All you need to produce good fruit is to remain rooted in him. You are striving and struggling for the by-product when really you need to be striving for intimacy with the Lord, and the good fruit will grow forth naturally.”
Identity is defining ourself in the truth:
-We are not defined by our struggles in the past or in the present or by our sins.
-We are not defined by the devil’s lies.
-We are not defined by the shallow labels that society, family, or anyone around us identifies us by.
-We are identified by the creator. He identifies us as heir to his inheritance. He identifies us as having the authority of heaven on earth. He identifies us as righteous, infinitely loved and forgiven.
Gandhi understands the importance of belief with his quote, “A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes.”
One day in my journal, I felt the Lord prompting me to understand my beauty and my identity in him and wrote this short poem:
“You are a flower… you are not a rock, a shrub, or a barren seed. You are a flower, so just be. Choose life by knowing your beauty. Choose to live by believing your Kingdom-given identity. When he died on the cross, he gave you all the authority. To radiate true life, overflowing love, and his glory."
When I was going through a dark time, I questioned whether Jesus was real in my life and whether he really loved me and made me righteous. I started to believe the lies that because I was craving sin, that I was sin. With my mindset, my identity was defined by my struggles and my sins; it became a prison and the habits were impossible to break.
Identity is made evident not only by what we believe, but how we feed our mind and our soul:
Identity is not only a product of who we believe ourselves to be, but also how we feed our mind and spirit. As chaos and questioning entered my life and my identity began shifting away from the truth, bitterness and distance entered my relationship with the Lord. From there it became natural to walk away from obedience and instead into blatant rebellion. I did not realize that the effects of the dark surroundings and bad choices were wearing down on my soul until I wrote this poem:
The Withered Flower
The soil has no nutrients. I am surrounded by rock and dead brush.
I have become a plant of the night—I receive no sunlight.
There is water but I do not drink it.
Therefore I wither, I am slowly dying.
Once a bright flower, dancing in the breeze and smiling at the sun…
Now all I represent is a lifeless version of what I once was.
When I was going through this time of questioning Jesus, I allowed bitterness and hostility to take place of seeking him. I separated myself from church, Christian environments, and made no efforts to read the Word or seek time and intimacy with the Lord. I allowed myself to be influenced and defined by anything and everything else except in Christ, and the effects were losing the battle of where my true identity lied.
Identity is a choice:
Shortly after writing this poem, I made a decision. Even though I didn’t feel pure, even though I didn’t feel like being obedient to Christ, and even though I struggled to feel loved and that I was made righteous. I decided to BELIEVE IT and from there made the choice to WALK IN IT. I knew I didn’t want to walk in shame, guilt, and condemnation. I knew that defining myself by my mistakes, struggles, and sins made me feel worthless and powerless to change. I knew that I wanted to live a life according to the calling of the Gospel, and to do that, I chose to accept my identity in Christ. From that decision, I wanted to fill my mind and spirit with the truth and surround my environment with uplifting and positive influences. I wrote another poem to define this time in my life:
Who am I really?
Who do I want to be?
Where is my true defining identity?
Not knowing who I am is a constant blanket of anxiety. It’s the influence of every walk of life and every temptation of good and evil constantly pulling at me and whispering in my ear. Each one desirable but contrary to another.
One path is fire…
The kind that draws you in. The kind where the flame dances and entices and wants you to dance with it. It teases and mocks because it knows you can’t look away. It is everything you know to be sin but it is everything you crave. The closer you get, the more danger of getting burned, but you don’t stop yourself and you don’t want to look away.
The other path is fire…
But this one is internal. Although it may not be as enticing, it promises the ultimate fulfillment. You can’t always see it, but the hardest part is when you can’t feel it. You know where to search but you don’t know where to find it. The promises of the internal and ultimate fire more often times feels dormant. A ruthless torture of what’s supposed to be but isn’t.
But God I want you! And so much more than that I need you! I don’t want to be stuck in this in-between wasteland. I want to be an inextinguishable fire unmatched by any temptations or empty promises that keep me longing. I want you near me, surrounding me, and walking with me hand-in-hand. I want you burning inside of me. Needing and craving nothing further than what is true and pure. This is a wild chase. It is hard to walk away from tangible feelings both dangerous and comforting for a moment, but ultimately leaving you empty, wandering, and wanting. I’m walking away from the fire of the world and seeking a brighter, hotter fire that burns within and through me. It is you Lord Jesus, where I choose to find my identity.
When I accept my identity as righteous and loved and choosing to find intimacy with the Lord rather than environments of sin, a feeling of peace walks with me.
The desire to sin became less of a power in my life. The desire to feed my mind on the truth and accept my identity by who Christ says I am became more of a reality over the shallow deceptions I had accepted. I am a good tree and able to produce good fruit; my only duty is to accept that I am this true identity and seek intimacy with the Lord.
When we are rooted in Christ, we produce good fruit. It is what the tree was meant to do. If it is planted in good soil, drinking water, and absorbing sunlight, the tree’s natural reaction is to produce good fruit.
And in Christ you have been brought to fullness.
How precious are your thoughts about me O God. They cannot be numbered!
—Psalm 139:17 (NLT)
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.