Then Moses asked God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ What should I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. That is what you say to the Israelites: ‘I Am has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:13-14
How many times have you been asked to describe who you are? In job interviews, it’s always “describe yourself to me.” On dates, it’s “tell me about yourself.” We fumble through the question talking about our families, our job experience, our likes, and dislikes…We sum ourselves up in our relationships with others and our own passing interests. Our identities are flimsy at best, but our desire is to make a lasting impact.
When God called Moses to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses assumed identities—for those who are not familiar with the story of Moses, I’ll sum it up for you. Moses was born in Egypt to a Hebrew family. The emperor—or pharaoh—at the time felt threatened by the population of the Hebrew community and demanded that all male children under the age of two be thrown into the Nile River to die. Moses’ mother hid him away as long as she was able, but as the Egyptian soldiers closed in, she had no choice but to find an alternate way to keep him safe. She made a water-proof basket, placed her baby in it and hid it in the Nile among the weeds. Moses was then found by the pharaoh’s daughter and was raised as a Prince in Egypt.
So, Moses’s identity was “Prince”—
After Moses grew up, he became aware of his Hebrew lineage (either by being nursed by his mother or told by those in his Egyptian family—the Bible is unclear). One day he came across an Egyptian beating on a Hebrew man and in an attempt to protect the Hebrew, he killed the Egyptian.
So, Moses’s identity was “Murderer”—
When the Pharaoh became aware of the incident, He sent people after Moses to have him killed. Moses fled into the desert.
So, Moses’s identity was "homeless", "refugee", "wanderer"—
Moses eventually found a home with a Priest in the land of Midian. He married one of the priest’s daughters and worked as a shepherd in the Priest’s fields.
So, Moses’s identity was "shepherd"—
But one day Moses came across something awe-inspiring. A bush that was set ablaze but was not disintegrating. Through the bush, God spoke. He told Moses that Moses was to free the Hebrews under the bondage of slavery in Egypt. But Moses was afraid. Why? Because Moses thought he knew who he was.
He was only: A former prince, a murderer, a refugee, a shepherd
But God assured him saying, “I will certainly be with you.”(Ex. 3:12, CSB)
But that was not enough for Moses. He knew he would have to speak. So he assumed a new identity:
“I am not eloquent.”
God told him, “I will give you the words to speak.”
Finally, Moses just told God to send someone else because he did not want to do it. God ended up bringing Moses’s brother, Aaron, to help him with speaking, but Moses was the one he called to deliver the Hebrews and by-golly, Moses was going to do it.
You see, Moses failed to notice something extraordinary about his interaction with God. We really cannot blame him, though, considering it is the same thing we all have failed to notice about this interaction.
When Moses asked God who he should say was sending him—in other words, “Who are you?”—God told him to say I AM sent him. God did not say, “God sent you” or “Almighty sent you”. “I AM” Such a small two-word combination, and yet such a powerful meaning we have all failed to grasp. “I AM”—the central foundation of identity. You cannot claim an identity without those two foundational words. “I am—Nicole” “I am—a woman” “I am—a Christian”. But God? Simply “I AM”.
Without God—Without I AM—we have no grasp of our own identity. Moses, without God, was simply an ineloquent, murderer, refugee, shepherd. What happened once God stepped in? What happened when the central foundation of all identity spoke? Moses became “Called”, he became “Priest”, he became “Deliverer”, He became “God’s”
Did you happen to notice that his identity was not based upon his own desires though? Moses did not want to be the Deliverer of the Hebrews. Moses did not want to be a rescuer. He was completely content to stay a shepherd. He was totally happy to forever be thought of in Egypt as a murderer. He had no issue being viewed as a refugee—But God demanded more of him. The basis of all identity demanded Moses to live up to his true identity. Moses was not born into his identity, he did not feel like his identity, he did not want his identity—but it WAS the identity he was designed for.
So what false identities have we been using? I know for me it was “I am—a weak woman”, “I am used”, “I am worthless”, “I am unloved”… but now that I am letting God dictate my identity, “I am—called!” “I am—loved!” “I am—healed!” “I am—free!” but the most important identity I have: “I am—God’s!””
Do yourself a favor. Do not allow the false identities—identities you were born into, you feel like, you want to be—dictate who you are. The very essence of our identity longs to empower you to be who you were designed to be.
Don’t let your flawed humanity steal your Holy identity.