In the sleepy little New York town that we resided in for 21 years, there lived a large family with a mother, a father, and many, many children. The “Wrights” were a well-known family in town, despite the fact that they homeschooled their children and did not participate in many of the local activities that surrounded the small school system. The mother of this clan could often be seen with two other women, who called themselves the “Generals,” marching around town, praying fervently, and casting out demons. These families were all dedicated members of a Charismatic Church in the area that believed in the gifts of the spirit and in the “specialness” that they believed those gifts endowed.
One day, on the unholy day of Halloween, the mother sent one of her children scampering to the tiny corner store to buy a dozen eggs. However, within minutes, the little boy woefully returned home with empty hands and explained to his mother that the store owner refused to sell him eggs on Halloween lest they be used to plaster some unsuspecting home or business with their sticky contents. This angered Mrs. Wright greatly and she marched herself down to the little store and demanded that she be able to speak to the owner. “Do you know who I am?” she yelled at the beleaguered man. “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”
My husband and I, in our irreverent way, have had many moments of fun using this arrogant phrase. When one of us playfully won’t give the other something, one of us will use our best Mrs. Wright voice, stick out our chest, and demand, “Do you know who I am? DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM??”
Indeed, who IS Mrs. Wright saying she is? She is claiming to have some powerful attributes that we should recognize when she asks such a bold question. However, when she says the words, “I am,” she is saying something that is not true about herself. “I Am” is insufficient. Mrs. Wright must add that she is—- a female, she is good, or bad, or German, or a teacher, or a biologist, or a Christian—-in order to be honest about who she is as a created human being. She is not the end all. She is not all-sufficient. That is pure arrogance and delusion.
God, on the other hand, is the only being who can claim to be the great “I Am” without saying anything more. God alone IS. All created human beings and created things must become—– but God alone already IS. He is all-sufficient in that He wants for nothing and lacks nothing. He is complete. We, on the other hand, are utterly dependent upon God and have no sufficiency of our own. We cannot conjure it up. Whatever we have to offer in this life comes from God’s all-sufficient grace.
This vignette of the Wrights will continue to amuse me for quite some time. However, I often ask myself whether this woman’s outburst is really that outlandish or whether it is the echoes of my own carnal thoughts? When I get irritated by the co-worker who refuses to greet me or even acknowledge my presence, aren’t I really inwardly screaming, “Do you know who I am?” When someone else gets a promotion or a commendation for their work and I chafe at it inwardly, aren’t I really saying, “Do you know who I am?” It is the deep cry of one who esteems herself as better than someone else. It is the echoes of a prideful view of oneself that cries out for recognition and special treatment. It is the opposite of who Jesus Christ demonstrated Himself to be.
And so, in those arrogant moments, when I hear my mind screaming, “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM,” I have to capture those wayward thoughts and ask, “Who am I ?” Who am I to be given special treatment? Who am I not to face rejection and sickness and hardship? When I’m faced with injustice, maltreatment, and discrimination…….why not me? When I finally empty myself of my “I AM” attitude, I then quietly bow my head to the all-sufficent One and let His voice wash over me when He says, “I am the great I AM!” In my awe of His greatness, I humble myself, repent, and praise Him!
Exodus 3:14 (ESV)
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
John 8:58 (ESV)
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
II Corinthians 3:5 (ESV)
Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.
Philippians 2:3-7 (ESV)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.