a disappearing identity?

Recently I sat down to watch a interview with Dr. James Houston.
I resonate with his books and familiar with the school of Spiritual Theology he began at Regent College alongside of scholars like JI Packer and Eugene Peterson.

I first heard of Dr. Houston through Larry Crabb whom he mentored for many years.
What initially impressed me most about Dr. Houston was that he was a personal friend of CS Lewis.

I began this video hoping to hear stories about the spiritual giant: Clive Staples Lewis.
What I heard in the first 2 minutes of the video really surprised me.

The interviewer asked: "Have you talked much about CS Lewis? Have you made a career teaching about him?"

Now I am thinking… Of course he would. What a great ministry that would be. I mean who else could share personal stories and insights like that?
If someone personally knew CS Lewis and studied with him, people would flock to hear.
Just think of the respect he would gain, the opportunities and the speaking requests!

Dr. Houston's answer: "No. I rarely speak publicly about about Lewis."


Not the answer I was thinking.

Why not?!

He continues by telling a story of having a guest speaker at the college many years ago.
"Eberhard Bethge spoke on being a personal friend of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He actually built a whole ministry around Bonhoeffer."

Dr. Houston shared how honorable Bethge's intentions were to carry on Bonhoeffer's legacy but also saw something "tragic".

"Bethge had lost his identity… he was Bonhoeffer's friend… Bethge disappeared."

"That is why I never really wanted to talk about Lewis. So I didn't."

Then Dr. Houston said this: "God's kindness to us is giving us space to be ourselves."

Dr. Houston continued to share about how discovering our true identity in Christ frees us to be unique expressions of God.
We are not our vocation, we are not who we know and we are not what we know. Our truest identity is in Christ alone.

This is where ministry starts and flows. It's tempting to have ministry start and flow from whom something other than Christ in us.

After watching that first few minutes, I was encouraged to come out from my preoccupation with work. To leave the thought: "I am what I do."
It gave me a sense of unexplainable rest. Value in Christ became more real for me.

I don't know about you but when I transition into a vacation often times my mind is still thinking and processing vocation. I can't stop and rest.

What I hope to learn is how a slow gaze at Christ and who we are in Him brings rest to my soul. This restful abiding in Christ frees me to be myself.

"Christians are never more our true selves than when they are in Christ." James Houston Joyful Exiles p. 18

As you forge ahead in your vocation or transition to a nice vacation may you rest in your friendship with Christ.
May your identity in Christ free you to be you.

Thank you for supporting this work of soul care and discipleship.

John Freeman