When thinking of the ideal you, the you that you would like to be, how would you complete the sentence, “I am…”? (I am successful! I am a leader! I am generous!, etc.)
This question was recently brought up to Elyse and me and her answer was very thoughtful and thought provoking.
Last weekend our family attended a regional training event. It was a wonderful time and we feel so blessed that our boys are able to grow up with the influence from so many wonderful, caring and for the most part, Christ following people.
As part of a transition, one of the speakers played a short video that went through a list of “I am…” statements:
- I am successful
- I am a leader
- I am caring
- I am generous
- I am… you get the point.
There is great psychological power behind making such self statements. I’m not an expert on the field, but I’ve heard that the subconscious brain can’t tell the difference between the truth and self programming and so starts to believe it and then you start to act in that way and it becomes a reality. There is power to repeating such statements to yourself and reprogramming your mind.
After this clip, Elyse and I were talking about it. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went, but somehow she was answering the question of:
“Which ‘I am’ statement jumped out to you?”
Her answer took me a bit by surprise. “I am nothing.”
Hmmm, Ok, I don’t quite recall seeing that one up there.
She went on to explain that when she was younger, through college, etc., she would stand in front of the mirror and do this self talk. This was a very powerful influencer and really was helpful. However, over the past few years and especially this past year, God has been teaching her something else, that “I am nothing”.
This is a difficult, but very powerful truth to grasp. At the same time it does need some explanation. “I am nothing”, and “Christ is everything”, and we are children of the king!
The Example of Moses
This was the lesson that Moses needed to learn. While still in the royal court of Egypt, Moses seems to have started to think of himself as a protector of his people. After all, he was somebody. He was in a position of power, the son of pharaoh’s daughter, living in the royal court, a man of learning and position.
One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Exodus 2:11-12 ESV
Moses could say, “I am strong! I am powerful! I am a leader! I am important! I am God’s provision for His people!”
Just two verses later, we then read,
Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well. Exodus 2:14-15 ESV
Moses was now right where God needed him to be, to truly make him into a strong, powerful, important leader that God would use to lead His people out of slavery. Forty years as a shepherd in the wilderness was what was needed to drive Egypt out of Moses and all the pride and self sufficiency that came with it.
After 40 years of learning in the wilderness, now at the age of 80, Moses was ready.
This time, instead of Moses acting to rescue his people, God called to Moses. This time, Moses had a very different response.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11 ESV
God then goes into a several paragraph answer that it will not be Moses who does it, but that God will be with him, that God will do it.
Still Moses is unsure:
Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice… Exodus 4:1
God again gives miraculous proof that He and His power will go with Moses.
Again Moses replies with uncertainty:
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Exodus 4:10 ESV
God again answers him about who created the ability to speak and that He will give him the words to say.
Yet again, Moses replies:
But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Exodus 4:13 ESV
The Lord then becomes angry with Moses, and Moses obeys to go along with Aaron his brother.
While God revealed himself as the great “I AM” in this passage, Moses had finally come to the point of being able to say “I am nothing”, before he was ready to by fully used by God and to become one of the greatest leaders of all time. (He does however seem to still need to learn the greatness of God, which he seems to have better understood as the story unfolds.)
The teaching of Christ
Likewise, Christ taught:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. John 15:4-6 ESV
“apart from me, you can do nothing”, “apart from me, you can do nothing”. What a challenging and convicting statement. “apart from me, you can do nothing”.
I think my wife was on to something, with her understanding that “I am…… nothing.” Moses learned this lesson, Jesus taught this lesson, Paul lived this lesson. Three of the most influential leaders that have impacted the world lived and taught this lesson. It seems that this truth, along with understanding that “Christ is everything”, is the amazing secret to truly living and bringing glory to Christ.
Recently our church has been going through a sermon series titled:
Jesus + nothing = everything
Jesus + anything = nothing
I pray that God can mold me to boast in the Lord as 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 says,
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
After all, I am nothing, Christ is everything!
Thank you Jesus, for using my wife to remind me of this great truth!