Who are you?
Who did God intend for you to be? There are several parables for this. I rather like the image of God handing Moses two stone tablets. Try to wash from your mind the popular artwork depicting Moses slogging something as big and heavy as a tombstone. It would be more like a pair of thin slices of slate displaying a fairly small font size, and more likely a change in coloration than heavy cutting. It would be something a human craftsman could not replicate.
Contrast that with Jeremiah 31:31-34 — “I will write My Law on their hearts.” He says pointedly that it will not be the same as the Covenant of Moses. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 10 really brings this out, quoting that part of Jeremiah. The presence of the Holy Spirit changes everything.
This would have had an obvious meaning to the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cultures in general, and Hebrew culture in particular. To a people already well versed in mysticism as the norm, there was nothing new about keeping the focus of your conscious awareness inside your heart instead of your brain. They considered living in the brain as living by the flesh. You got that way because you made no room for God in your heart. Instead, your heart was closed off from God, filled with all kinds of other deities or just plain junk, lesser commitments.
We have a tough time reading the Bible from that point of view, but those people presumed it as the norm, something so obvious that it just didn’t require frequent comment. And they were used to the idea of having to stay focused and striving through many years of this powerful personal commitment to Jehovah before one could sense a living Presence in the soul. Precious few could manifest that kind of vivid commitment early in life. They would have regarded it as a form of genius, a moral precocity. It was also a mark of God’s favor. We should hope it meant you’d have everyone else’s favor, as well.
So when God promised to make that happen on a wider scale, it was viewed as a fine miracle, indeed. Consider the impact of Jeremiah 31:34:
“No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (NKJV)
Your community shalom wouldn’t depend so heavily on that constant battle of reminding folks to live by the heart and not by their heads. So on the one hand, every human at any given time could learn to live in their hearts, and could eventually get so accustomed to it that it was the same as having God Himself living in your soul. On the other hand, God was promising He would make it the norm to invade their souls before they had time to work that hard at it. They could all be precocious moral geniuses.
So instead of building a life like a fine mansion with those stone tablets displayed prominently on the wall, it would be a mansion built on those stone tablets in the first place. That Law of God would become much bigger than a mere tombstone; it would be the massive cornerstone set firmly into the hillside so that everything you build rests on it from the start. Indeed, that cornerstone would naturally be there in the first place, waiting for you to come and build.
It would up to you individually to first find the place God wanted you to build your life. Then you might have to remove some rubble and dirt to find that cornerstone. But eventually it would become clear as day with the building plans inscribed on it. So you would begin to follow those plans and build out, cutting a terrace for your life that would never collapse. Your life would become a shelter for many others, as well.
If you and I come into this promise from our Western heritage, it’s not just a building project, but a massive archeology dig. We have a lot more dirt and rubble to remove and it could easily be a never-ending project. It’s worth it, but that may not be obvious from the start, given how so few folks around us have any appreciation for such things. Worst of all, we will be treated like some kind of traitors for leaving behind the cerebral existence. They cannot comprehend a life lived by sheer conviction without first filtering it through reason.
Your reason is not who you are. It might be the core of your existence without the Holy Spirit, but that’s not what God intended. You cannot know yourself that way and make it mean anything. You have to know yourself in that other way, based on convictions that God wrote in your heart.
So the quest remains that of finding out who you were meant to be.