By Chelsia Checkal
Standing tall on my tired feet, I grinned into the candlelit mirror. There in my dark bathroom, I could feel freedom welling in me as I reflected on how the flame held close to my chest rendered the shadows behind me insignificant.
Have you ever felt as though your lineage casts dark shadows behind you, shadows you cannot run from and cannot hide from and cannot make sense of?
I’ve painfully squandered years and dreams living in the shadows behind me. I’ve believed every lie about who I was destined to be based on my family lineage. Oh, the hours I’ve spent reeling over the addictions and sexual abuse and sin-filled choices associated with the names in my genealogy.
There’s plenty good to sing praises of, but the darkness of our family’s past will often try to define who we are and who we have the potential to be or not be.
As a young wife I recounted the mistakes of the women in our family and feared I’d do the same. If my temper got high, I’d punish myself emotionally for being like so-and-so. When I fell into a dark season of sin outside my marriage, I told myself for years that I was just like “them,” and I would never be able to change my adulterous ways.
My education, my emotional state, my marriage, my mothering, my ministry…at some point the success of all things in my life has hung in the balance based on whose footsteps I thought I was doomed to walk in.
But looking in the mirror that day, holding the warmth of that flickering flame, God spoke gently to my spirit.
Sweet one, you are who I say you are. Your identity is not measured by the mistakes of your family. Your identity is not determined by what you think you’re destined to be. Your identity is not even weighted in your sin. No. Your identity is tucked safely close to my heart, covered in my infinite grace. Let the shadows behind you remain shadows behind you. For I do not see darkness in you. I see myself. Look straight ahead at the light. Do you see how brightly you shine because of my light in you? Do you see the reflection of my light in you that drowns out the darkness behind you? That, my love, is where your identity lies. That, my love, is how I see you. And that, my dear one, is how I long for you to see yourself.
Jesus. He does things differently than the world does. His love is scandalous. His grace is outrageous. His calling on our lives is shocking.
Jesus anointed Matthew the tax collector to pen the first gospel. And Matthew began with the recording of Jesus’ sin-filled genealogy. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Matthew chronicled the names of those who cast dark shadows over Jesus’ own family line.
Why would God do this? As the author of all of history, He could have written a perfect lineage for His Son. But instead, He made sure His Son relates to you and me.
Jesus never tries to prove himself to us as our Lord and Savior. Because Jesus is our Lord and Savior.
Jesus lives from a place of who He is. He doesn’t try to hide from the sin of his uncles or great-great grandparents. He doesn’t try to make sense of it. He doesn’t weigh it into the measure of who he is.
He simply walks as Jesus, Son of God, and loves as Jesus, Son of God, and makes his mark on history as Jesus, Son of God.
This begs the question, If Jesus’ family doesn’t determine whether or not he is worthy of being loved by God and used by Him as the greatest gift to mankind, then why don’t I believe that the same standards apply to me?
Sisters, the darkness behind us will never overshadow the light within us. God used a sinful lineage to bear the one who would save the entire world from sin, and He uses the same love and grace to affirm our worth in Christ.
We are not victims of sin. We are conquerors.
We are not held to an unreachable standard of sinlessness. We are covered in grace.
We are not fighting for victory. We are already victors.
This season, as we reflect on Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life, may we also reflect on the wonder of how God divinely positions us. Our family. Our places. Our people. It all holds purpose for the divine purpose God has for each of us.
Chelsia Checkal is an unashamed dreamer living on grace. A recovering legalist erring on the side of love. A coffee indulger who’d delight in meeting you at a quaint cafe to talk real-life. A messy mom, wife, and free-spirited Jesus girl whose life sings a story of redemption, freedom and hope. Chelsia blogs at movewithhim.blogspot.com.