(excerpt from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis)
Perhaps you can recall a little of the turmoil that invaded your teenage years. Engulfed in a multiplicity of struggles, we floundered to establish our identity. We grappled with a variety of fundamental philosophical questions that have plagued human existence: Who am I? Am I lovable? Where am I going? Because I was created to be dependent, I need someone to tell me who I am. I want someone to label me as lovable. I require someone to guide me. Whomever or whatever I allow to validate these issues establishes my identity. The defining force of my life becomes my god. Daily I choose to be desperately dependent on God, or a God substitute.
I (Kirk) remember my first traumatic encounter with my name. By the time I was four years old, I had enough social interaction with my extended family to know I was not being accepted as their equal. One day I stood by the window of our small house, crying. I remember saying over and over, “I hate my name. I hate my name. I hate my name.” Mama, concerned by my actions, came to me and asked, “Kirk, what’s the matter?” I looked at her and then back out the window. “I hate my name. Why did you name me Kirk? Why couldn’t you have given me a good name—a name starting with R like Ronnie, Randy, or Mark? Then everyone would like me.” At this early age I assumed the reason my cousins did not accept me as their equal was because of my name, who I was. This was my simple way of expressing my belief that something was wrong with me. My name must be ugly. That had to be the explanation. Their rejection must be about who I am.
Much to the dismay of my father, my mother wanted to name me Kirk because she was enamored with Kirk Douglas, the movie star. Dad protested and asserted that I would be named after him; thus, John. Mama, in her countermove proclaimed, “His first name will be John and his middle name will be Kirk.” As Dad yielded, Mom added this caveat, emphatically announcing, “But he will be called Kirk.” In spite of the confusion and conflict between my parents, I am astounded that my name perfectly parallels God’s call on my life. John, meaning sent by God, and Kirk meaning church dweller. In the midst of the domestic chaos, God’s sovereign love was at work, continuously attesting, “I love you and I have a plan for you.”
We are incapable of establishing our own identity. Therefore we need someone other than ourselves to validate us. God’s view of life dictates that He is the only one qualified to be our validating source. It is through God’s love for us that we receive His validation, establishing that we are lovable, significant, and secure. This God-centered identity leads to completion and fulfillment in Him.
Within our lives we each possess a sacred “God place”—that place designed by God for God. Only He has the right to occupy this position in our lives. From this God place He rules over our souls and replenishes our hearts with His validating love while establishing our identity. When any other entity occupies this place, we are guilty of idolatry. The Old Testament is replete with warnings and consequences that result when idols invade the lives of God’s chosen people. Although we may dismiss these passages because they are often connected with the pagan gods of Baal or Asherah, these admonitions also apply to modern life where we continuously allow other entities to fill our God place and dictate our lives. Any substitution for God we permit to establish our identity, love, significance, or security is an idol. These counterfeits break the heart of God. He aches as He watches our foolish endeavors to find completion in our lives through empty alternatives.
Recognizing Christ as our only source of abundant living establishes a desperate dependency on Him. He alone supplies unlimited love, because He is love. Nothing can offer greater significance than the identity as a child of God. No other position is more secure than in God’s care, where He states, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deut. 31:8 NLT). Living with divine enablement for personal empowerment attains ultimate fulfillment. “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts” (1 John 5:21 NLT). “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty” (Eccles. 12:13 NLT).
“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power” (1 Cor. 4:20 NLT).
What might take God’s place in my heart (1 John 5:21)?