Who am I? What am I for? What am I really all about? Mankind is fascinated by these questions, and always has been. From the smallest child having their first philosophical thoughts, to a man or woman in the storm of a midlife crisis, to the confused regrets of the deathbed—the questions of “who am I?” and “what am I for?” are characteristic of humanity.
In a way, it makes sense that we overwhelmingly struggle with the self because at the end of the day, everyone has one. We are eternal beings who are bound in finitude. We feel the weight of eternity without the capacity to truly understand it. We contend with a lot of unbelieving input, and we generate our own unbelieving input. We struggle with the self because the self is everywhere we go, getting its little grubby hands into everything that we do.
So while this question “Who am I?” is common, an actual answer to it is uncommon. We major on the big-philosophical-struggle side and try to minor on the reality. This is because no one wants to hear (or give) the one-sentence summary: “Yeah. Okay. So you are a middle- aged, overweight housewife who lives in Cleveland and has trouble staying on task.” Or “You are a Texas girl living in Maine who is addicted to social media. You always think you do more than you do, and have trouble with being selfish.” This kind of answer is insufficient in many ways—the main reason being that we ourselves are insufficient.
A description of our persons isn’t untrue, but it is certainly not enough to satisfy what we are looking for. If what we are at face value is enough to satisfy us, then I doubt mankind would be so obsessed with these questions. We aren’t satisfied because all we see on the surface is unsatisfactory answers. This is what I mean by feeling eternity but being bound by our finitude. We know there is something bigger, and we know that somehow we are a part of it. We may be short and frequently forgetting our commitments, but somehow we know that we still matter.
A description of myself that even a five-year-old could give is not enough to answer this question because my heart longs for something far, far better. A deeper knowledge of myself—a deeper understanding of the whole picture of reality and how I fit in it. And surely that is greater and more glorious than the size of my pants, the actual tasks that I accomplished this last year, or my very real weaknesses. It can’t really just come down to my résumé and statistics, can it?
In order to satisfy myself, who I am must in some way be greater than myself. Think about that. My identity must be bigger than myself in order to satisfy me. We have a yearning to know ourselves in some way that is bigger than us. We have a need that we can’t possibly fill.
There is a simple answer to this struggle, and it is that man was created to be a worshiper. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
You are to live to the glory of God. Every minute—all of them, for His glory. Is this a sufficient answer to our hearts’ questions? I believe it is. This is an answer that may leave us with more questions, but it is more questions that will in turn have real answers. This is an answer that points the way to all of the answers.
In summary, it isn’t really about me after all. What wonderful freedom is that! The only real value and meaning in my life is present in that wonderful phrase “To the glory of God.” This is the freedom from the fear of being insufficient. I am totally insufficient, and I don’t have to mind that at all. To the glory of God, I am weak. To the glory of God, I am not enough. To the glory of God, I come to Him anyways. To the glory of God, I worship and am satisfied. As David says in Psalm 3, when he is facing the consequences of his own radical sin—his own failures—“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”
God is our glory. God is the glory of sinners, the glory of failures. God is the glory of those who submit to Him.