I am 32 years old…or am I 33? I am at that point in life that I need to start doing the math to be certain. As I get older and the creases start to form on my face (my hair has already been intentionally removed with the help of Wahl) and the years pile on to years, things start to happen. Some things become more complicated for me. Things I thought of as clear cut and simple have different sides to them. Other things become more clear and I can feel my soul grip them tighter.
One thing that falls into the latter category of these two is the answer to the question Who am I? Plenty of toe crushing books have been written on the matter but the answer to that for me has become crystal clear and continues to give me rock solid confidence. That confidence is not in me but in Jesus Christ.
What I mean by this is that ultimately, decisively and most importantly my identity is found in being a follower of Jesus Christ. This takes priority over being a man, husband, dad, son, brother, elder, deputy sheriff, runner, photographer, or whatever other roles or interests I enjoy or do. At the center, I am his. Jesus Christ left heaven, became a man, lived the life I could never live, died the death I should have died, conquered death, rose again, and is now reigning as King of this universe. And he did that for me.
Identity is huge in America. We all shape our lives around what we think defines us. Identity is huge in law enforcement. Their are books, t-shirts, gear and pictures that tell us we are to be sheepdogs. Sheepdogs are those who have a “capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens.” They are the ones who protect the sheep. The sheep are the ones who are productive members of society but do not have an ability to be violent. Sheepdogs are the ones who want to intimidate those who intimidate others, and the ones they want to intimidate are the wolves. The wolves are the ones who also have a capacity for violence yet use it against the sheep.
I do love this metaphor. I think of myself as a sheepdog and have seen sheep do nothing and have seen the wolves prey on the sheep. God has established government to have a monopoly on force and be the sword by which he avenges his wrath on the wolves (Romans 13). This is right and true, I believe. Yet, with any good thing, if it becomes the ultimate thing, it is a bad thing.
Before I am a sheepdog I am a sheep.
“My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
I could never sheepdog my way out of my sin. I needed a shepherd who laid down his rights and went to the cross. While I think each night before my shift starts that I could be killed, laying down of my life could never save anyone from their sin. The shepherd willingly laid down his life and picked it back up. I have heard that voice and I follow it as a sheep. This is what defines me ultimately, decisively and most importantly.
And being a sheep first, makes me a better sheepdog in the end when it is all done for his glory.