I Am Who I Am
I have been, as you know, quite busy lately, and I find myself saying,”I can only do what I can do.” I have to set priorities and make sure that I get the important things in my life done. Sometimes, I look at my full plate and try to figure out what I can put on hold. But, other times, I don’t want to miss out on living life to the fullest and trying to do everything I can; because I love being around people; and I love helping people accomplish their goals. And there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. But I don’t know how to do it any other way, because I am who I am.
Whenever I think about those words, I am reminded of the Bible, and and what we learn in Ex. 3:14, when we are told, “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” This is one of most confusing passages in Scripture; those words just don’t make sense to us in modern day America. What was God saying to us? Well, before we can know that, it is important to understand a little bit about the Hebrew language.
In fact, as I am writing this I am thinking about my first several days in Hebrew class. I didn’t start taking Hebrew until my second year of seminary, as I had started Greek in my first year, and now I was required to take both foreign languages. Although I liked the Greek, I was very apprehensive about the original language of the Old Testament, Hebrew. It didn’t look like anything familiar, you read it right to left, and it was described to me as a very pictorial language – full of imagery and meaning. That turned out to be true, and in a few minutes, you’ll see why!
But little did I understand the full impact of the language on my understanding of God until Dr. Smith used several illustrations to make his point. For example, unlike our modern day English, there is no present tense in the Hebrew. In other words, everything happens in the past or in the future. So, you can say, “I went to the store yesterday”, or “I will go to the store tomorrow” – but there are no words to say, “I am going to the store right now”, because the present does not exist. Now this next part gets a little dense, so hang in there with me. You can’t say that you are doing something in the present, because by the time you say it, the words are in the past. Confusing, isn’t it? So you can never do something exactly when you say it, because it is already history by the time the words get out of your mouth.
I found it very difficult to connect the dots – so what difference does that make? What a crazy language. And then it hit me – God said,”I am.” And that meant that He existed in the present, and that was impossible according to the Hebrew language. But yet God claimed, “I AM WHO I AM.” Now wait a minute. God was saying that He was different than anything else ever in the world, that He existed moment to moment, in each moment – and that concept was totally foreign to the ancient Jewish culture. No wonder they were amazed and took notice of God’s words.
And then, to drive the point home, Christ is asked, in Luke 22:70, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, Yes, “I am.” Get it? He was claiming to be the same as God – existing in the present, moment to moment. And unless you know the original Hebrew language, it is impossible to know what this meant to the Jews. This is why the Pharisees were so intent on crucifying Jesus – he was claiming that he was God.
So this is all interesting stuff, at least to me, but what does it mean to us as Christians – what is the practical application of God’s claim? That God is with us in the present, every moment – this instant, and this instant, and this instant, and this instant………understand? God never leaves us in the past, or will leave us in the future, because He is with us ALWAYS – and that is huge!
So my encouragement today is to let you know that you are never alone – not even for an instant. For God has told us Himself, “I AM WHO I AM” every instant, moment to moment, throughout all eternity. And you can trust Him – after all, He has never left your side. My prayer today is that you will sense His presence, right next to you. And you may even hear Him whisper, “I AM with you always”.