Finding Self in God
“And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.'” Exodus 3:14
This morning we are moving on to another attribute of God, and that is self-existence. To even think about how God has just always been is something that makes a human's head hurt because the concept is so far removed from what we know and understand. Everything we see and are surrounded by was created, and yet the God who made it all was not – He was, and is, and is to come.
When Moses met God in the dessert in the burning bush, he asked God to tell him His name so he could tell the Israelites who sent him. The response God gave Moses is in the verse I put at the top of this page. Within our modern day translation of this Hebrew text we get a very watered down version of what God was saying about Himself in the name He gave for Himself to Moses. What God was basically saying is what I stated in the above paragraph, He is the One who has always been; He is the uncreated One; He is the originator of all that is because He was all there was before everything that was created came to be.
We ourselves are part of His creation, and yet we are also made in the image of the great I AM who was not created. Within our framework we have a desire to be just like our maker because He made us to be like Him. And yet, the sin that resides in our human cores pushes us towards an unhealthy and unbalanced view of who we are in comparison to the great I AM. I think AW Tozer does a great job of describing this conflict of self within man in the following quote:
“The doctrine of man made in the image of God is one of the basic doctrines of the Bible and one of the most elevating, enlarging, magnanimous and glorious doctrines that I know. There is nothing wrong with self-respect, there's nothing wrong with saying, 'I am' and 'I will' and 'I do' as long as we remember we're saying it in lower-case letters, as an echo from the original One who first said, 'I AM.'...The essence of sin is independent self...The sinful world says, 'I am,' forgetting that they are an echo of the One above and saying it in their own right...There say God upon His throne, the I AM THAT I AM, the eternal self-sufficient, self-existent One. He made man to be like Him and gave him a will – He said, 'Man can do as he pleases.' He meant for man to circle around the throne of God as the plants circle around the sun. And I repeat, man said, 'I am that I am' – he turned away from God, and fallen self took over. No matter now many manifestations sin may have, remember that the liquid essence in the bottle is always self.” AW Tozer, The Attributes of God
How can we be saved from ourselves then, if sin keeps trying to push God off His throne and place our own selves upon it? The answer is easy, get off the throne! But the battle to keep off that throne and stay off is not a once done thing. The other night I was talking with some ladies, and we all were admitting how hard it is to pray for something and then let that thing and the answer the Lord has promised to provide for all that we give Him, in His hands to do with as He pleases. The human tendency to start worrying again about what we just gave up to the Lord and taking actions to see the situation(s) we are facing, so we can see them start to make progress in the direction we desire is a way even good meaning Christians put themselves on God's throne. We must be constantly watchful because the pull to place ourselves on the throne is so strong.
As I was reading through some scriptures this morning, and reflecting on the words of AW Tozer, I came upon Psalm 86 and thought the words of David were very fitting to share as I wrap up my thoughts today on this subject of the great I AM compared to who 'I am.'
David says this:
I am poor and needy...I am holy...I cry to You... I lift up my soul...I will call upon You...I will walk in Your truth...I will praise You...I will glorify Your name forevermore... (from Psalm 86)
In thinking about our actions, our intentions, our motivations, and even our prayers, we need to remember we are the created who live in the shadow of the great I AM so that all we do and all we can say in finishing the sentence “I am...” is not about us, but rather about the God who created us to echo the great and wonderful truths of who He is.
To think on God, to praise Him, to realize our needy state, to walk with Him (always letting Him lead), to glorify Him, to lift our souls to Him, and to call upon Him whenever we start to feel scared or stressed – theses are the things that push us back from taking over the throne and instead allow us to exult the One who alone should occupy the throne. We need to keep these choices at the forefront of our minds as the only choices we should ever consider if we truly call Jesus our Lord because that means He is the One who sits on the throne we are stand around the throne and echo His glory to a dark and sin-filled world.