I started my own business in the Spring of 1986—Vision Cycles, a motorcycle parts and repair shop. I was now a motorcycle mechanic and business owner, and I took great pride in that. I didn’t realize it at the time that I was finding my self-worth in my occupation. I felt valued and that made me feel good about myself.
At the age of 31, the Lord began a change in me, and I knew I had to answer a call to sell my business and go into full-time youth ministry. At the time, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to sell my business—partly because it didn’t sell! I had one buyer but that fell through. So I was forced to liquidate my tools and equipment piece by piece. Looking back on it, I realize that God was taking me on a journey to do a deep work in my heart. At the time, however, it hurt beyond words. With every piece of equipment sold, there was a story of how God provided the money for it or created the deal through which I purchased it. Oh, the memories…so many memories. Every item that was sold and left the building was one more repair I wouldn’t be able to accomplish on a motorcycle. Piece by piece my heart was being torn to pieces. Letting faithful employees go was difficult as well.
I felt lost and insecure. So many thoughts raced through my mind. Now what am I going to do? The only way I knew how to make a living was gone. Fear gripped me time after time. My mind raced. How was I going to make a decent living? How was I going to provide for my wife, pay the house payment and utilities, put food on the table? Questions…many questions. Ok, near panic!
In July of 1994, with little left in my motorcycle shop, I heard the voice of God within me ask a question I will never forget,“Now who are you?”
Who am I?
That question rocked me! Who am I? I didn’t even know what I was doing, where I was going or what I was going to do next, much less who I was. Who am I? I don’t know!
I obviously didn’t know how to answer that question. I certainly wasn’t who I thought I was. I was a business owner and a motorcycle mechanic, and that was being torn from me. Sure, I was still a husband with a great wife. I was even a part-time youth pastor. But my career! My business! What I invested so much time, sweat, money and effort to build…was gone! Gone!
I didn’t realize at the time that I was receiving something deep within me from my business. I was getting a need met and didn’t even know it. I didn’t know this was happening until it was gone. Boy, did I know something was missing then! Through the Lord’s question, I discovered that I found my identity in my title and my occupation. I was receiving value and self-worth from these temporary things. I had no idea I was doing this! Even if I did know it, I wouldn’t have thought it was wrong. When I was discharged from the Navy in 1990, it didn’t have the same effect on me as my business did. The same with being a youth pastor when I left that position in the summer of 1999. The reason for that is I wasn’t finding my identity from the Navy or from being a youth pastor, but I was from being a motorcycle mechanic and business owner.
Who Am I?
This set me on a journey of discovery. It took a while—years even. I learned that properly framing a question leads to the answer. Here are a few questions I wrestled with during the journey.
- When we no longer can do what we are doing, who are we?
- When we no longer possess what we had, who are we?
- When we no longer have the title before our name, who are we?
- When all our children have grown and moved out of the house, who are we?
- When we age and grow older and we literally cannot do what we did before, who are we?
- When all is stripped away and we are standing there alone, who are we?
We must understand one fundamental thing: We are not what we do. Our value and worth do not come from our bank accounts. We are not the sum total of our possessions. Sure, we can enjoy all these things but our identity, and therefore our value and worth, must come from something much deeper.
On this journey to discover who I am, I found something that I didn’t expect—something deep and life-changing. I came to understand the love that Father God has for me in a deeper way than I had encountered before. I became a “beloved son.” Not from God’s perspective—He already loved me like that. No, the change was in my perspective. Now I knew it! I knew how He loved me, that I was truly His son, that His love was profound, abiding and eternal. I became His beloved son in my heart.
I believe the same will happen for you as well if you allow this revelation to become your revelation.
I will ask you the same question God asked me:
“Now who are you?”
Excerpt from my latest book; “Now Who Are You?”