Day 4 – Rest and Self-Identity
By: Brian Crenshaw
“Cupcakes and Mirrors”
This section is not about eating cupcakes and feeling bad when I look into the mirror, though that could fit this theme of identity. A few years ago, I had the honor of coaching high school girl’s volleyball at Westminster Academy. I had never coached volleyball but had learned about the opportunity and need for someone to coach. I had torn my Achilles tendon a few months before and was left with a hefty medical bill. A second job like this would help. Their current coach was out with back surgery, so here I was sitting with Erin in our living room praying for God to show up and help with medical bills saying yes to an email to coach girl’s volleyball and then scrambling to watch YouTube and the Olympics so I could learn the sport.
The young women on the team were incredible. My time there remains a deep joy in my ministry career. They were a good team despite my coaching, and as I told them day one, “you will have to teach me volleyball. I will catch up. I will coach, shepherd, and push you to be the best you can, but I need you to take care of the technical volleyball thingamajigs.”
As I coached the team, I had an opportunity to invest in them from a discipleship standpoint. As a team, we would meet and have Muddies cupcakes, read “Grace for the Good Girl,” and unpack Ephesians over the season. We saw God meet these great young women where they were at with their struggles of performance, image, identity. God would begin to meet them in the tough questions teens face about themselves, who they are, where they would go to college, etc. We had a good season and won a lot of games. At the end of the season, Erin and I got the team picture frames that were ornate and we painted the glass with mirror paint to create a min-ornate mirror. We wrote Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship (Greek “poiema”…where we get the word “poem”), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” so as they looked into the mini handmade mirror in an ornate frame, they would see themselves and read God’s truth about who they are. They, as young women, were more than their grades, their outer appearance, their dating status, their volleyball skills, their sin, their goodness…they were and are God’s poem. As young teens, I pray they can find rest there…in knowing who they truly are.
What things in this season of life are clouding your identity?
Reflect on this verse for a few moment-Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship (poiema), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
How does it make you feel that God calls you his workmanship, masterpiece, poem (all words that translate poiema)?
One way we have rest is to know our identity. The most un-restful place to be is one that your soul doesn’t know “who” it is or “whose” it is or “why” it is here. Ephesians 2:10 shows us these 3 things…Who we are (God’s poem/workmanship/masterpiece, Whose we are (In Christ Jesus, meaning we are Christ’s) and Why we are here (For good works…works he has for us that were created beforehand and that he will reveal to us). You can read Ephesians 1 & 2 and underline many terms that God says are true about you (unblemished, chosen, adopted, lavished, sealed, blameless, etc.). These truths in Ephesians 1 & 2 are part of the foundation of rest. My world and your world may be chaos, but when I know who I am in Jesus, that is rest. Or the reverse, I can have a peaceful world, but if I do not know who I am outside of what I do, I am not at peace and not at rest.
Where has your identity, up until this point, come from? (success at hobbies, grades, popularity, struggles, brokenness, trauma, dating, money, lack of money, your school, your career, your kids, your singleness?)
Spend a few minutes reading Ephesians 1 & 2…
Ephesians 1 & 2 are gifts to us that sit like mirrors before us that were given to The Westminster Defender’s Volleyball Team with sharpie Scripture scribbled on it. On days without peace, spend some time looking into the mirror of Scripture or Ephesians 1 & 2 to learn Who you are, Whose you are and Why you are here.
The Defender story doesn’t end there with the girls and their identities. As I entered coaching, I was pretty un-rested and tired. There was some ministry burnout, the pressures of our adoption journey, and a tough Achilles surgery. As I coached and taught the team volleyball and identity, God taught me about my identity and rest. That group of sweet girls changed me. They taught me. They formed me. I learned that my identity wasn’t in being a twin or Erin’s husband or an adoptive dad or living in the inner-city or being a pastor or the ministry that I do. My identity was in my sonship. My identity was in who I am, not what I do. I saw God use a bunch of 15 to 18-year-old young women with braces, bows in their hair, high ACT scores, and love for cupcakes teach me a lesson about bravery and embracing their identity, which allowed me to embrace my own.
As we wrap up our look at rest, we cannot ignore personal peace comes from who we are in Jesus and that he knows us by name, calls us to be his children, sanctifies us (makes us more like him), and prepares a place for us to be with him for eternity. That is true rest.
Think about this question, “if everything I own, everything I am good at, all people that I know, and what I look like was taken away, what would my identity still be?”
As we sit in Thanksgiving week, this bridge between fall and winter, as we explore how we experience shalom, sleep, Sabbath and self-identity, may we be rested to strive for God’s Kingdom. May we start our day and Thanksgiving with rest. May we in our pursuit of rest find not only rest but grace as well.