“Who am I?” This is a question that desperately needs to be answered. Unless we have a strong sense of our own identity, we're likely to live our lives without direction—unsure of where we have come from or where we are going.

Who am I? It's an important question.

People seek to answer this question—to search for their identities—in different ways. Some find their identity in the nation, the ethnic group, or the family into which they're born. Others find it in their professional, athletic, or artistic accomplishments. Still others adopt a philosophy or system of faith that gives them their identity.

“Who am I?”

Many cannot answer this question. They do not belong to a group that they can take pride in—they haven't accomplished anything they consider noteworthy—and they're not sure what they believe.

One of the most important and well-known characters in the Bible once posed this question. Many think of this man as someone who must have been sure of who he was—but one time in his life he was not.

God had decided to bless all people through the family of Abraham. Isaac was one of Abraham's sons, and Jacob was Isaac's son. God gave Jacob the name “Israel.” When Jacob's family faced famine, God led them to Egypt where one of his sons had already become a powerful leader. God saved the people of Israel by leading them into Egypt.

After many generations, however, the king of Egypt, Pharaoh, grew to fear the Israelites and began to oppress and enslave them. When their numbers continued to grow, he ordered that all Israelite boys be killed at birth. When that didn't work, he sent his soldiers to drown them in the river.

At this time, Moses was born in Egypt to Israelite parents. As a baby, Moses was spared when he was adopted by Pharaoh's own daughter and raised in his household. Moses knew, however that he was not an Egyptian and, when he had grown up, he killed an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite.

Because of this he had to flee and become a shepherd in a mountainous wilderness. There he married and started his family.

But Moses was a man without an identity. He had been born an Israelite, but was not among his people. He had been raised as an Egyptian, even as royalty, but had been rejected. Far from being a prince of Egypt, he had become a lowly shepherd—not exactly an occupation to boast about. He had received an Egyptian education, but did not worship their gods—neither did he really know the God of his ancestors.

Until, that is, the day God spoke to him. Moses was out tending the sheep when he saw a bush on fire—on fire, but it did not burn up. Moses went closer. As he drew near, he heard a voice, a voice that called his name. Moses answered the call, and the voice told him to remove his sandals, because he was standing on holy ground.

The voice then identified itself: it was the voice of God! Not one of the Egyptians gods, but the God of Moses' ancestors—the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob. That God had heard the cries of the oppressed Israelites, and was ready to deliver them from Egypt.

God told Moses, “Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”1

With such a direct order from God, you might think that Moses would have obeyed immediately. But Moses had such little sense of identity that he had no confidence in his ability to do what God was demanding.

He replied, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”2

“Who am I?” Moses asked.  Who was he, indeed?

For one thing, Moses was God's creation. He was made, like all people, in God's likeness—and therefore, like all people, he was filled with infinite value and worth. Not only that, Moses was one of God's people. He was descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and therefore heir to the promises that God had made to his ancestors. What's more, God had a purpose for Moses' life, and had already been preparing him from the day of his birth. Moses had an identity—he just did not know it.

By God's amazing grace, we can all have the same sense of identity. We have all been created by God in his image. Whatever our race, nationality, religion, education, or abilities, we are all equally loved and valued by God. And now, through Jesus, we can all be adopted into God's people. We can be part of the community of believers, where each individual is given unique gifts and plays a valuable role. God offers us an identity in which we can take confidence.

Interestingly, when Moses, asked the question, “Who am I?” God did not answer—at least not directly. Instead, God simply said, “I will be with you.”

You see, the more important question is not, “Who am I? but “Who is God?” If we believe in God, we can believe his assurance that he is with us. If he is with us, then answering his call is not a test of our abilities, but of our faith. What we do for him is not accomplished by who we are, but by his presence in us and with us.

[1] Exodus 3:10, NLT

[2] Exodus 3:11, TNIV

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