One of the greatest battles each of us will face throughout the course of our lives is the discovery of our true identity. I refer to it as a battle, because that is what it is. We have had a spell cast over us, by a wicked enemy who wants nothing more than to see our true identity ripped away, and for us to wander through our lives living a reality that is far less than what God would have wanted.
If you want to know who you really are, there’s no quicker way to get there than to pursue deeper prayer. Prayer is all about a relationship, but not just any relationship. It’s a relationship with someone who knows us better than we know ourselves. When we spend time with God, it naturally tends to help us know ourselves better.
I’ve shared before about my recent personal retreat. I spent lots of time in prayer over the four days. What’s amazing is that one of the most significant takeaways for me was how the Lord kept saying, “Do you realize who you are?” And then he kept answering his own question, leading me to one scripture passage after another that told me just that, Who I Am!
In a beautiful way, I was led to a story I had read years ago that helps us understand this great battle for our identity:
Once there was a king whose wife loved him, and whose sister hated him. The wife bore him many children, who were the chief joy of his life. The king’s sister held several grievances against him, most of which were imagined. Her hatred only became a danger to the king when it led her to the practice of witchcraft.
One day tragedy fell upon the king. The queen, after giving birth to another son, died. This gave the king’s wicked sister great joy, which of course only made her more wicked. When the sister saw the special love that the king had for his youngest son and the consolation that the boy brought the widowed monarch, she resolved to see this joy taken from him too.
No one saw her enter the royal nursery while it was momentarily unattended. No one heard the chilling words of her incantation. But in time the spell’s effects were hidden to none who knew the king’s youngest son. At first, he seemed a healthy, happy baby. But as the boy grew older, concern for his well being increased. It wasn’t anything you could put your finger on exactly, but every now and then something the boy did or didn’t do, something he said or didn’t say, betrayed a real disorder, however mysterious in origin and character.
“Doesn’t it seem odd,” his nursemaid remarked when the boy was two years old, “that ‘papa’ doesn’t click for him yet. Whenever the king stops in, I make the biggest fuss about it. ‘There’s your papa,’ I always tell him. ‘Say hi to Papa.’ But he’s not caught on yet; though he is a wonder with names as a rule.”
One day, years later, the young prince went into the city with his brothers and sisters. He wandered from the royal party and became lost in the winding city streets. While searching for a familiar face, he unwittingly walked right into a boys’ street game, disrupting the play. The neighborhood bully lost no time challenging him to a fistfight. Shaken with fear, the unrecognized son of the king stammered an apology; when that didn’t satisfy the young antagonist, he offered his ring for appeasement. The boy snatched the ring from the prince’s outstretched hand. But, as soon as he saw that it bore the insignia of the king, he paled with fright, threw the ring at the prince’s feet, and ran away as fast as he could. The prince was as bewildered at the boy’s reaction as he was frightened by his threats. Soon after, he found his brothers and sisters and told them what had happened.
They were indignant. “How could you act like that?” said the oldest brother, speaking for them all. “Why didn’t you just tell that buffoon who you are? Your father is king of this whole land. Anyone who dares to challenge you affronts the king! I can’t believe you actually offered that idiot your ring!” The prince was ashamed of himself for acting as he did, but in all honesty he couldn’t understand how things could have gone differently.
When the prince became a young man, plans were drawn up for his role in his father’s kingdom, yet the prince worried about his future, as though he didn’t know he was assured a place. Everyone knew that his inheritance would amount to far more than he could spend in a lifetime, yet the prince hoarded money compulsively, saving every silver piece he could find and tucking it away in one of several hiding places. His relationship with the king was the most peculiar thing of all. Not once in his life did the prince start a conversation with his father, not once did he go to the king for a favor or advice, in spite of the king’s great heart and repeated efforts to establish a bond of love with his son.
In time, two more deaths shook the kingdom, though only one was met with grief. First, the king died, much sooner than anyone expected. Shortly after, the king’s sister contracted the same fatal illness. Only then, on her death bed (whether by way of confession or boasting there has been some argument) did the king’s sister tell of the curse that had given her such wicked joy.
Though your father a goodly ruler be, you, last son, shall never know him;
While in his palace you may remain, You’ll live the life of an orphan.
A curse on your eyes, that they not see, on your ears, that they not hear
and on your heart that it not know the love of your father.
Few took courage at the report of the sister’s death, even though it meant the end of the spell’s effect. For by then the king’s last son had wandered far away from that land-by rights and nature the king’s son, but by experience, an orphan.
[Adapted from the preface of Sons & Daughters of God: Our New Identity in God, by Ken Wilson, (Servant Books, 1981)]
Many of us resemble this young prince. God is our Father, but the significance of this fact and the effects of this relationship completely escape us. We wander through life oblivious to our true identity. Even if faith has come alive for us, we still can find ourselves striving to protect ourselves, fearful of the future and if we will have everything we need, operating in most situations out of insecurities and fear. But God wants us to be secure, confident, free from anxiety, filled with joy. He wants us to bear his authority and to receive the inheritance that he has in store for us. Do you realize who you are? In short, the Lord wants to teach us who we are so that we can receive all the benefits that come with our position.
May you come to experience the incredible love of the Father, in a way that resonates in the deep recesses of your heart. His love, and only his love has the power to break to spell of the enemy. You are no longer an orphan, you are a son, a daughter!