New identity in Christ
I hate backpacking. Something about walking around with a 60 pound load of stuff hanging off of my shoulders is unappealing. Especially when it involves going up really steep mountains, which is what we have a lot of around here. But, a lot of people love it. And there is no doubt, if you want to see some beautiful country that screams of God’s hand in creation, this is one of the best ways to do it. Spending a few days out there will refresh the most worn out mind and soul.
Over the years we have had quite a few staff members hike the entire Appalachian Trail. It is over 2000 miles of mountain traverse that runs from Maine to Georgia, and the whole endeavor can take anywhere from 4 months to a year. The trail passes not far from camp, and so we have often led students on hikes out there. One thing that always strikes me as interesting, is the number of hikers who hike the complete distance each year. Many of them are on a sort of “soul search”. They are at a point in life where they aren’t sure of their purpose or identity. These folks come from all walks of life and consist of students, retirees, professionals, and drifters and wanderers. They are young and old, men and women, and there seems to be no consistent charecteristic that fits them all. Not all are searching, but many are.
And one of the stangest things takes place out there…
Everyone takes an alternative identity. They issue themselves nicknames (called a trail name) that seems to defeat the purpose of finding themselves. I have heard some doozies. “Raindog”, “Bedhead”, “General”, “Sweet Dreamz”, “Rabbit”, “Magic Thumb”, and our very own “Stride” (AKA Anne Tully, a current SWO staff member), to name a few. Most curious to me is the fact that many of these people become consumed with the name to the point that they no longer even think of themselves by their real name. It is like the AT identity takes over. They also refer to each other by these names, and only rarely can you get someone to cough up their given name. So much for finding yourself.
I don’t want to be too critical, here. For a lot of people, it is really all done in fun. No big deal. I once assumed the name “Pigpen”, for a lengthy hike i did (No comments wanted). But for the child of God, we have been given a new name. We have been given a new identity. We are identified with Christ in his life, death, ressurection, and in eternity. The old me is dead, Paul says.
In Ezekiel, Yahweh promises Israel that He will give them a new heart and a new Spirit. John talks repeatedly about the New Birth. The scripture is so clear that we have Christ’s identity, and He determines our purpose ( See Romans 8:28-30 ). So many people try to find their identity in what this world offers, and never find true joy. We belong to Christ, and must find ourselves in him.