Jeremiah 1:4-5: The word of the Lord came to me, saying “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Psalm 139:13-15: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
A priest, a pastor and a rabbi were discussing the beginning of life. The priest said confidently, “Life begins at conception.” The pastor disagreed arguing back, “No, life begins at viability.” The rabbi listened intently and then exclaimed, “You’re both wrong. Life begins when the last kid goes to college and the dog dies.”
In the debates over abortion, stem cell research, genetic engineering and embryonic cloning, the central driving issue is the moment that life begins. In essence, it is the very definition of life itself. While we, on the human, moral level, argue over this issue from science, philosophy, theology and ethics, in the heart of God the matter is clear and settled.
You were known by God before you were born, before you were conceived, before the very creation of the world. If God is the author and sustainer of life, then in a very real sense our life began when we were known by God before he uttered the words, “let there be light.” That’s a pretty awesome thought!
God’s first words to the prophet Jeremiah were meant to seal in his heart the nature of his temporal calling. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” This text forces us to presume something incredibly audacious. God’s eternal decision to create a world outside of himself included his decision that you and I would one day live in this world. The two are integrally connected. Our birth is no accident. And neither is our life, our purpose for being here, or God’s intent to lead us into the life he created us to live. From God’s “knowing” us before creation, to his work of knitting us together from conception to birth, to his daily sustaining us with life, breath, health and all we need to live in this world, our life in its entirety belongs to him. He chose the day of our birth and he will choose the day that he takes us home. In between every second is a gift from him to be invested with joy in a relationship with him; a relationship that includes loving ourselves, loving our neighbor, and loving this world that he created for us.
Every atom in your body belongs to him, you are here solely because he willed you to be so. How then can we possibly find our identity in any other source than this creating, sustaining and loving God? We are children of God – that is our only possible identity as we walk this earth. And the spirit he put within us yearns every day to be reconnected with its creator. As St. Augustine stated so eloquently, “Oh Lord, you created us for you, and our sole is restless until it finds its rest in you.”
This may sound a bit silly but please take it seriously. Go stand in front of a mirror and take a really good long look at yourself. Look directly into your eyes and say these words from your mouth so your own ears can hear them, “You are here for a purpose. You are part of God’s plan from eternity. He could have chosen to create this world without you. But he didn’t. He chose you. He chose your gender, he chose your skin color, he chose your height, he chose the color of your eyes and the size of your ears. He chose your smile, your gait and the sound of your voice. He created you exactly as he intended. You are the product of his workmanship. You belong to him. Your only identity on this earth is that of a child of God.”
How does it feel to tell yourself this truth?
My dear loving and creator God, it is hard for me to believe that you thought of me before the creation of the world. I am amazed at the thought that you planned for me to be here from the beginning of time. I don’t feel very important, Lord. And in this world I so often feel unappreciated, undervalued, and sometimes even useless. Help me Lord to live into this truth that I am your child, created for meaning and purpose in the life you prepared for me to live. Drive out of my heart and mind all thoughts that pull me away from having my sole identity in you. I give you back every second of every day that you give me life and breath to walk this earth. Let me live my life in joy as a witness to you, my loving creator, redeemer, sustainer and friend. In Jesus’ name. Amen.