At a pivotal point in the film and novel Overcomer, one of the main characters, John Harrison, is asked a penetrating question by a friend.
“Who is John Harrison?”
It’s a simple question and John’s immediate answers are predictable. He runs to what he does rather than who he is in God’s eyes. His response shows where his heart is—focused on the “doing” rather than the “being.”
The main theme of this powerful story is that the One who created you has the right to give you your identity. And you can either manufacture your identity or you can choose to put on the one God has designed for you. He has the ultimate opinion about who you really are.
Until you embrace who God says you are and agree with Him, you can’t become the person you were meant to be.
So how do you discover your true identity?
How do you come to understand who God says you are? And how do you grow into that identity in the process of day-to-day living?
I believe the best place to begin that journey is through prayer. And the best thing to pray is the truth of God’s Word.
Now, the process is not easy. In fact, it’s often painful. God allows us to go through difficulty and pain to draw us closer to Himself as He conforms us to the image of Christ, His ultimate goal for our lives. We experience His great love and discover who we really are in the middle of the struggle.
The starting point is to believe the truth about Him and ourselves.
He is holy, we are not. We are sinners, separated by a wide gulf only God could bridge. God did that by sending His Son to die in our place and give His righteousness to us. That’s the bedrock truth to believe.
But wait, there’s more.
What I’m suggesting you do is go through the same process a central character in the Overcomer story goes through. In a pivotal scene, two characters talk about the grace of God and how much He wants to forgive and cleanse.
The assignment for that person who wants God’s forgiveness is to read the first two chapters of Ephesians and list all the things that passage reveals about who we are in Christ.
In preparation for writing the novel, I read the script, I visited the set of the film in Georgia, and I talked with the Kendrick brothers about the inner workings of the story and what they were trying to accomplish. The conflict, tension, and struggles of all the characters bring them to a place of full dependence on God. And being in Christ means fully depending on the fact that what God has said and promised is a reality.
I printed those two chapters of Ephesians and put them before me each day for several months, reading through the passage over and over and asking God to show me how to craft this story. Printing this section and underlining and marking it may be helpful for you, especially if you are skittish about marking up your Bible.
The first thing I noticed was the phrase “will of God.”
Paul was called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus “by the will of God.” Throughout the passage I found multiple references to God’s will. His will permeates the passage.
Thank You, God, that Your will is good for me and that You have a plan for my life and that You want me to follow You and seek You. I can trust in Your plan because Your heart is for me. I believe today You don’t want to hide Your will but show it to me. So I rest in Your will and Your plan. Help me follow You wholeheartedly.
Another word that popped up again and again in this passage was “praise.”
Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ..” We were predestined by Him “to the praise of his glorious grace...” Our ultimate goal is to “bring praise to his glory.”
Father, thank You that my life can be used to praise You. Today I want to surrender myself anew and make myself available to Your praise. Use whatever circumstance You bring my way to help me praise You. Enable me to give You glory not only when things go the way I want, but in every situation. My goal today is to praise Your glorious grace.
List these truths and read them/pray them each day:
I am chosen (Eph. 1:4).
I am holy and blameless in his sight (Eph. 1:4).
I am adopted (Eph. 1:5).
I am redeemed through his blood (Eph. 1:7).
I am forgiven (Eph. 1:7).
I have an inheritance (Eph. 1:11).
I am sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13).
I am deeply loved (Eph. 2:4).
And the list grows bigger and richer the more you read. Each of these truths can be turned into a prayer from the heart.
In fact, you might find 30 truths from the first two chapters and focus on one each day for a month.
For example, as you consider God’s forgiveness, journal and pray specific things God has forgiven in you. You could take your devotional time and thank God for His complete forgiveness and cleansing. You could even use this idea to bring up painful situations in your past that haunt you.
Father, You know how much of a failure I feel like when I think of what I did when I _________. Every time I consider that, I feel shame and guilt. But today, I choose to see myself forgiven and set right. You have given me the righteousness of Jesus. And it is because of that truth that I live free from that weight and burden. Thank You for lifting it from me so that I don’t have to live under it any longer. I believe You have forgiven me. Help me to live forgiven today and to extend that forgiveness to others as freely as You have given it to me.
When you capture the power of these truths about who you are in Christ, Scripture comes alive.
It’s not just words on a page or letters written to an ancient people, but truth you can appropriate each day.
Another section of the letter is quite familiar. Ephesians 2:8-10 is a passage I committed to memory decades ago. It had become, for me, a faith postulate I pulled out to convince others that we don’t earn our salvation but it is a gift from God. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s true. But digging into the passage in a fresh, new way, with a pen and colored markers, I saw something hidden there.
Paul writes in Eph. 2:10 that “we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
From previous studying and reading different translations, I know that word creation means “a work of art” or “masterpiece” or “poem.” I am God’s poem, His story that He is writing and crafting into the image of His Son, so that each day I can walk in the good works He has prepared in advance for me to do.
Father, You created me. You have the right to do anything You want with my life. Today, would You open my eyes to the things You have prepared in advance for me to do? Would You help me see not just the big things or the spiritual conversations I have as from You, but also the mundane, daily duties as ways I can praise You by aligning my heart with Your purpose for my life? Like Bartimaeus I ask You to help me see the things You want me to do today that will glorify You.
There are truths in this passage that are life-changers. When you begin to contemplate the kind of love and grace God has lavished on you, your life can’t help but be renewed, invigorated, and transformed.
Begin to pray these truths back to God and see if your heart is drawn to Him in tangible ways as you agree with Him about who you are in Christ.
Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children. Learn more about Chris at his website.
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