“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…” (Psalm 103:2-3)
Boarding a Boeing 747, purchasing Sudafed at Target, and driving into a ritzy South Florida neighborhood share a common thread. Stitching those random scenarios together is the fact that we must voluntarily open our wallets, extract our identification card, and willingly display it before the eyes of absolute strangers. Proving our identity has become a modern necessity.
Though it states my name and address, that little laminated card doesn’t reveal the essence of who I am. What can show where I actually stand, and what my true identity encompasses? When God asks me to open the billfold of my heart and present my identity to him, what does he see within?
David’s Psalm 103 presents us with answers. I learn from the Shepherd King that my identity rests securely in whom I belong to, in the astounding truth that the Creator of the Universe allows me to “bless his holy name” even though I fall short of his righteousness. God welcomes my soul, imperfect and marred as it is, to be intimate with him. I am given permission to use audible words and the meditations of my heart to honor his name with blessings.
The foundation of my identity is the relationship I share with Almighty God who lavishes me with “benefits,” the primary one being forgiveness. The psalm reminds me that he is the one who “forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.” Every part of me that does not measure up to his perfection is washed and cleansed and redeemed because of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross.
He heals all the parts of me that are broken and filled with shame. He reaches deep inside to the place no medicine or doctor could ever go, and brings forgiveness and restoration. He identifies himself as the Great Physician, the perfect Healer. The prophet would remind us to cry out: “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me and I shall be saved, for you are my praise” (Jeremiah 17:14).
To stay a while in Psalm 103 is to focus my mind on the undeniable truth that God “redeems your life from the pit…crowns you with steadfast love and mercy…satisfies you with good.” My identity is renewed like “the eagle” since I am covered by his mercy and marked by his graciousness. The Lord of heaven and earth is patient with my shortcomings and loves me with a steadfast, constant, resolute love that is incapable of being fickle.
As I bow to his commandments, as I beg him for mercy and ask him to remove my “transgressions,” he will cast them “as far as the east is from the west.” I am indelibly marked by his forgiveness; he is the Great Forgiver and can do no less. My true worth is mercifully tied to the radical identity I have from him.
“A secure identity comes from a high view of God, not a high view of myself… Our value comes from God; it can never me found in how we measure up. So whether you feel worthy or ashamed, this news should probably undo you. It is the character of God that gives us worth, not anything we have done or will do.” – Jeannie Allen
Elizabeth A. Mitchell