From Pauper to Prince: A Case of Mistaken Identity
By Jesse Eggman
Many of us have a hard time recognizing our own true “Self” as a result of living in foreign lands and the nature of our work. Although everyone has an absolute, God-given identity, most live with a faulty, incomplete concept of it. Not long ago, I realized I didn’t really know who I was. Not fully. Sure, I knew what scriptures said about me, but I felt God assuring me that I did not deeply know and understand who I was as at my core.
Most missionaries go through the process of moving to a new land with a new language, culture, currency and world view. The affirmation and value “markers” we received from our old jobs, roles, and positions in our home culture vanish instantaneously. Our pre-field relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and church leaders aren’t able to support us as strongly as when we were “doing life” together back home. Many familiar things are stripped away, and soon most of what propped up our identity is peeled away leaving us feeling as if the very ground under our feet is vanishing. In the midst of so much change and insecurity, it can be so easy to allow what we are “doing” to define us and shape our identity. Being task-oriented and performance-driven, I easily fell into that trap and missed out on an amazing opportunity for God to help me know and understand my true identity in Him.
It was many years later that I finally came full circle. I was in my second foreign nation, had become assistant team leader, had launched and was directing a Bible School, and was helping run TIP, Short Term Teams and Apprenticeships. God showed me I was emotionally unhealthy having built my identity on a faulty foundation. He revealed that I worried what my team, leaders, partners and others thought of me. If others commended me, I felt validated and worthy, but if they didn’t I felt rejected, deflated and worthless. By working so hard to please everyone, I had depleted my soul which greatly diminished my ability to give and receive love.
My shock and horror at this realization was intense, but it led to a time of genuine sorrow, repentance and true revelation. I asked God, my leaders and godly counselors for help and set aside sufficient time to dedicate myself to restructuring my identity. I sought out the enemy’s strongholds in my thoughts and beliefs using God’s Word to tear them down and build fortresses of Truth in their place. Soon I began to understand my true identity, which was found in God Himself and was unchangeable and unshakable. I was like a prince, who believed himself a homeless pauper, even though he was indeed a prince with the right and ability to live royally in the palace and help rule the kingdom!
I had given more attention to human opinion than the words and deeds of my Creator. John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”. The Louw and Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines the word translated love here as “to like or love something on the basis of a high regard for its value or importance”. God so valued human beings that He gave His precious, innocent and perfect Son to set us free. God’s actions demonstrate our unfathomable and incalculable value and worth. Nothing we do can add or subtract from our worth. It is set in stone once and for all. Likewise, our identity is found in who we are as beings created in the image and likeness of God. We are His sons and daughters, princes and princesses, co-heirs with Christ in God’s eternal Kingdom as well as ambassadors, warriors, overcomers and victorious conquerors. We will rule and reign with God for all eternity! This is our true and unshakable identity. We just have to believe it and live accordingly.
Once I was awakened to my true identity and unchangeable worth, my soul began to experience security and bask in peace. This has freed me to explore who I am as a unique individual. I have discovered that I am someone who yearns to be enjoyed and enjoy others, to intimately know and be known, to love and be loved, to lavish and be lavished. I am a creative man who desires intimacy with God and others. I love action, adventure and a challenge as well as love, rest and peace. I am continuing in peace in the midst this process knowing that, regardless of my faults, I am safe, secure and pleasing to God. It turns out that life, without the fear of failure, is quite enjoyable!
When we know and live out of our true identity in Christ there is nothing that can stand against us! Luke 10:19 says “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you”. We have nothing to fear, God has already given us everything we will need! 2 Pet 1:3 says, “His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness.” We cannot lose and have nothing to fear since God will use everything to benefit us! Rom 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” We don’t even have to worry about our own weaknesses since Phil 1:6 says, “God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished.” Romans 5:15 summarizes all of this well saying, “Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, in life will reign as kings through the One, Jesus Christ.”
If you find yourself feeling anxious, hopeless, depressed, worthless or powerless, there is a good chance you are forgetting your power, authority, position and value inherent in your identity as God’s son or daughter. If you find yourself in that place, don’t beat yourself up, just wash your mind with the Word of God by seeking out Scriptures that apply to your situation and allow His Truth to transform your thinking. The Israelites’ task of conquering and possessing their promised land is a great picture of what we must do in our minds. Just as they had to overcome fear and defeat enemy armies and strongholds, we must overcome our fears and take hold of God’s great and precious promises through faith and bring down the enemy’s strongholds in our minds. This is the essence of what 2 Cor 10:4-5 means when it says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God”.
One of the easiest ways to do this is keep a very close watch on your emotions. Ask yourself why you’re feeling what you are feeling. Consider if you are overreacting or underreacting. Let others speak honestly into your life. Then pray and ask the Holy Spirit where your responses (or lack thereof) are coming from. Partner with Him in searching out ungodly beliefs (UGBs) and enemy strongholds in your mind. Once identified, follow these simple steps to freedom with each ungodly belief:
Confess: “I confess my sin (and my ancestor’s sin) of believing the lie that….”
Forgive: “I forgive those (be specific) who contributed to my forming (and watering) this ungodly belief.”
Repent: “I ask You, Lord, to forgive me for receiving this UGB , for living my life based upon it (be specific, including how this affected others), and for anyway I have judged others because of it. I receive Your forgiveness.
Forgive yourself: “On the basis of Your forgiveness, Lord, I choose to forgive myself for believing this lie.”
Renounce and break agreement: “I renounce and break my agreement with this UGB. I cancel all my agreements with the kingdom of darkness. I break all agreements I have made with demons.
Finally, ask God what your new godly belief (GB) is and then listen for His prompting. Once you hear it, write it down and then declare, “I choose to accept, believe and receive the godly belief that….”
Declare and proclaim: Each new godly belief needs to be established by declaring and proclaiming it over yourself daily for at least 40 days. Find life-giving scripture to support and strengthen them. You are worth it!!
On my journey, I have compiled a journal full of UGBs and GBs. Here are examples that might help from my own life. After feeling very down about making a mistake in front of others, I found the UGB active in me that “I shouldn’t make mistakes or show any kind of weakness in front of others.” I followed the above process and allowed God’s Truth to help me form the new godly belief that “I am free to make mistakes and commit errors. God gives me grace, mercy and forgiveness as well as unending love and acceptance regardless of my failures. My value, worth, inherent dignity, safety and security are in God alone and cannot be shaken!" After realizing that I was very upset when others were not pleased with my actions. I discovered the UGB in me that “I need to please others,” and replaced it with the new GB that “My one and only obligation is to love God with all my heart, mind and strength and to love others as He leads me.” The last UGB I will share is “I should/must maintain control of everything/everyone to feel safe/secure,” which was replaced with “I do not need to control anyone, and, as I grant God control over my life and surrounding circumstances, I can trust Him entirely to work everything out for my benefit and well-being!”
It is hard to fully explain the great freedom, joy and peace I experienced as the enemy’s lies were uprooted and God’s Truth took deep root in me. I am absolutely certain that as you take the time to possess your inheritance and take on more and more of your true identity the levels of love, joy, hope and peace you experience will multiply exponentially!
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