You guys are in for a treat today. Meet my friend, Jill Richardson. She is a pastor, speaker, blogger, fellow FTL Launch team sister, mom of daughters, and a fabulous storyteller. She is funny, smart AND a Lord of the Rings nerd. As you can see, we have lots in common and I simply adore her. As I am off traveling this week, I have asked Jill to share her extremely relevant and powerful message with us today. The first paragraph got my attention, as our family enjoys the same LOTR marathon tradition each year during the holidays. Please enjoy this inspirational word from Jill and then go check out her blog for more great stuff. 

Welcome, Jill!!

aragornBy Jill Richardson

Every New Years our family has a tradition. We watch the same movie. But when the Richardsons do anything, hey, go big or go home. We don’t watch just any movie. We watch The Lord of the Rings, extended versions, all three films. It’s a long day.

If you are as good at nerding out as we are, you know that the character Aragorn is the man destined to be king. Yet for several hours worth of film (and the first 86 years of his life), he hides from that destiny. He’s kind of the Robin Hood of Middle-earth, swooping out of the woods to do good things for helpless people, then going back into hiding. He’s a Ranger, a lone Ranger, uninterested in the responsibility of being a king.

Until he is told quite succinctly (and when an Elf-Lord speaks, it’s usually succinctly) to stop it. No one else can do this job, he’s reminded. It’s yours whether you will or not.

“Put aside the ranger; become who you were born to be.”

I love that scene. The huge shining sword comes out. It flashes in the torchlight. And it’s time to face true identity.

Sometimes I think God says the same thing to me. What are you afraid of? Why are you hiding behind lesser responsibilities? Why are you messing around with meaningless, trivial things when there is a kingdom at stake here?

Why are you content to live a small life?

Ouch. God can be worse than an Elf Lord, people, when it comes to telling it like it is.

We hide from who we are. Too often, more often than not, we don’t even know who we are. But I am convinced that most of our life’s battles would be significantly easier, even over, if we knew the answer to these questions:

Who am I?

Who am I meant to be?

Why aren’t I?

It’s never too early–it’s never too late–to become who you were born to be. And the best place to look is in the beginning.

Three times in Genesis 1 God uses a phrase when he talks about the creation of human beings.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.’ So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

“In our image.”

You know, if something is said three times in Hebrew scriptures, it’s pretty serious. Like, Chicago getting mildly excited if the Cubs win the World Series serious. It means the thing mentioned is not even up for debate. It’s settled.

So, the point is, God meant this emphatically. You are made in my image. Each one of you. Every single human on this earth. All sizes, all colors, both genders, even all the kinds of baptists. Even when you really, really don’t feel like you’re living up to your end of the deal. That’s who you are, plain fact. Are you ready to stop being anything less and become who you were born to be?

Soon after that pinnacle of creation in Genesis, a slinking, sneaking scoundrel (I do love alliteration) stole our true identity from us. And here’s the kicker—we let it happen. We walked right into it. It wasn’t like a stranger hacking into our credit info at Target. We opened up the account and said, “Have at it. I don’t want to be what God made me to be. Let’s try something else.”

It didn’t end well.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’d like to take back what was stolen from me. I want to be what I was born to be. Time to put aside the sometimes-heir-sometimes-child-often-roaming ranger and accept the challenge of being the King’s image bearer, not just in creation fact but in daily life.

Who are we? Who were we born to be? Why aren’t we being that?

“People are portrayed as the pinnacle of creation, endowed with dignity as those made in the image of the Creator. They are made in order to serve God, not as slaves but as partners, whom he delegates to do his work in the world.”

Are you ready to learn to be a delegate? I am.

Jill1Jill is a writer and speaker of topics that start with grace, courage, hope, and restoration. Also a firm believer in the power of Earl Grey, author of five books, Cubs fan, and sort-of empty nester. She has an unnatural love for Middle-earth, chocolate marzipan, old musicals, and fish tacos. She co-pastors a church near Chicago and has three grown daughters. Her latest venture is Just Hear Me Out: Conversations in the Generation Gap, a book, conversation style, between a baby boomer and a millennial about faith, church, leadership, and what we can finally agree on to move forward. Read more from Jill at www.jillmrichardson.com