Remind Me Who I Am

By

My mother recently told me about a moving moment from the T.V. show “America’s Got Talent.” She told me about this eleven-year-old girl, small in stature and unassuming, who blew the celebrity judges away with her amazing performance and won their highest praise. Backstage, she was asked why this was such an exciting and emotional moment for her.

She replied, “Well, it’s that these amazing people think I’m good, too.”

To be highly regarded by somebody important to you: it’s heady and humbling at the same time. For a moment at least, it silences the voice of fear that is always making a case for our unworthiness. You feel seen. It can make a difference.

Today marks the release of the first radio single from my upcoming record, A Way To See In The Dark. The song is called “Remind Me Who I Am” and has an origin story that might interest Rabbit Roomers.

For the last few years my journey has circled around the idea of identity, where we find it, and why it matters. Our resident expert on the issue of identity here in the Rabbit Room is Ron Block, whose posts and comments are fragrant with the hope of the new creation alive and available to each of us. He knew something that I want to know, and so I wanted to talk with him.

It had been on my mind to give him a call for several months already when, sitting on a plane in Seattle one night in January, I watched him board. Not only is Ron a really kind and intelligent guy, but he also happens to be in one of the most accomplished bands in the world, Alison Krauss’s Union Station. Heck, he even made an appearance in one of my favorite movies: “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”. So when he spotted me, smiled, and said “I’m sitting by you!” I guess I felt a little like the girl from America’s Got Talent – “Ron Block wants to sit by me?” I thought to myself.

It all had the whiff of a divine appointment, and thanks to Southwest Airline’s open seating policy, Ron was soon seated next to me and for the next three hours I got an education that brought some clarity to my understanding of myself and the way the human heart works. Much of what inspired this song grew from that conversation.

The idea I absorbed in my formative years was that I sin because of my willful disobedience. And while that may be true in part, another truth is that most, if not all, of the time I really don’t want to sin, so that I do so seemingly against my own will. Or as the apostle Paul famously said, “I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway…” ( The Message)

So sin begins to look more like addiction than anything else, as though there is a ravenous hunger deep inside of me that demands to be fed. What is that hunger, I wonder?

Genesis chapter three tells us that one of the first consequences of sin entering the world is that the ground would be cursed, that we would eat by the sweat of our brow and the soil would produce weeds and thistles. This carries in it the idea of futility: that our efforts are frustrated, that no matter what we do, we feel it’s never enough – that perhaps we are never enough.

The constant, nagging fear that we don’t and never will measure up is like a pebble in our shoe that troubles every step of our journey. Surely this is the curse.

We can’t live under the oppression of inadequacy long before we start looking for ways to escape the shame and loneliness of it, and things go from bad to worse as we flee from the curse by running to things we hope will make us feel loved, desirable, and worthy.

We run to affairs. We surround ourselves with symbols of status that we hope will convince us of our worth. We escape into the fantasy world of pornography where for a moment we can imagine ourselves desired and wanted with no risk of rejection. We flee to workaholism determined to prove our value – our life and vocation shaped by a fear of failing. We hide in the bottle. We turn inward and refuse to risk disappointing those we love by withholding ourselves from them.

But of course all of these desperate grabs for significance leave us worse off than we were before — more empty, more ashamed, and with more regret.

If only we could learn to run to Christ, the one who calls us his beloved, his bride, the child that he chose to welcome into his family. We would hear him tell us that we are enough because he says so. We would hear him call us his treasure, and we would come alive.

There is that parable where Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God being like a man who, having found a treasure in a field, sold everything he had in order to buy the field and gain the treasure. I was always taught that I was the man in the story who needed to give up everything in order to “gain” the Kingdom of God. But our own Andrew Peterson pointed out to me years ago that in the other parables surrounding this one, the “man” in the story was always God. What if God cast himself as the man in this parable, too? Is he the one who gave everything he had in Jesus in order to recover us? Could it be that we are God’s treasure?

When I’m tempted by sin these days, I can feel beneath it a desire to feel worthy and loved. This desire tells me that I’ve forgotten who I am and need reminding. I’m learning to run to the only one who can tell me, the One who carved my name in the palm of his hand and gave everything he had so I could be his.

It is heady and humbling at the same time to be so highly regarded by one so worthy. It makes a difference.

Get “Remind Me Who I Am” instantly for free when you pre-order the full new record, A Way To See In The Dark, at www.jasongraymusic.com – available in standard and a deluxe edition with 8 bonus songs and a 32 page devotional booklet

“Remind Me Who I Am” is also available on iTunes! Here’s the link

Listen to the song here:


49 Comments

  1. Sandi

    I recently told a good friend and believer that I needed him to help me remember who I was when I go to that place where I forget, that I needed my community of believers to remind me that above all else I am HIS. Love this song for the perfect reminder that we belong to Him and nothing can take that away from us!

  2. Claire

    That post is amazing. I’ve never thought of sin in that respect, and it makes sense to me now. I also think that my fear has to do with making sure that I don’t simplify Christianity too much and realizing that God is all-powerful, causing me to fear Him and to not realize how much He loves me.

  3. Fellow Traveler

    I’ve known what both discouragement and encouragement from respected sources feels like. As discouragement is very painful when unexpected, so encouragement is very sweet when unexpected.

    Recently I wrote a song, thinking it probably wouldn’t come to much but deciding to invest in a professional demo so I could pitch it. I didn’t even know if the highly respected singer who does demos would think it was worth his while. When he immediately replied saying that he thought it was a winner and would be happy to do it, it floored me, especially since he’s also been a writer for years.

    We can become overly dependent on how we look in the eyes of the world, but man… when you’re really unsure of yourself, that kind of encouragement is more precious than gold.

  4. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jason, I love this. Plus, when I was walking on the plane, saw you 15 rows back, and said loudly, “I’m sitting next to you!” I’ll never forget the look on the face of the woman sitting in the row ahead of you. Then I said, “Sorry. Not you. Him!”

  5. Aj Luck

    Jason- thank you so much for sharing your heart in this post. I know for me personally, I needed this reminder and clarification. I am new to the Rabbit Room- and am so glad I stopped by today! Thanks again.

  6. Keri

    Just finished reading Andrew’s Monster in the Hollows a few minutes ago. This post echoes of Nia reminding her children at every turn to remember their names and whose they are. Love these words and your words and their sweet truth!

  7. Sam

    Great post and great song! I resonate deeply with your story. The Spirit has been moving me along a similar journey over the past few years of learning to trust who God says I am in Christ versus my performance for Christ. My sense of worth too often was/is rooted in my performance for Christ. When I feel as though I am performing as a “good Christian”, I feel significant and worthy. When I fall short, I feel guilt and shame. In both insistences, my attempts to find my significance in my performance keep me from loving well. It’s difficult to love when you are consumed with pride or shame.

    How incredibly freeing is the truth that in Christ, I have the Father’s unconditional words of approval: “You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” In that approval I find significance that I did not earn and I can not lose therefor there is no reason for pride or shame.

    Your music has been a “horizon” for me to gain my bearings on my identity. I know the words from Scripture about who I am in Christ, but there is something about the beauty and power of music that helps the truth descend from my head to my heart. Maybe that is why Paul tells us to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs as one of the ways to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col 3:16).

    Anyway, a hearty “thank you and well-done!”

  8. Chris Whitler

    My youth group at church is made up of kids in the neighborhood (most don’t even come to actual church). I do not believe that one of them has a father. Tonight, you will be the guest speaker through this post. This post and this song is exactly what our group needs to hear. Thank you.

  9. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Thanks, Jason.

    Are you so heavenly-minded because of how close your head is geographically to heaven? Whatever the reason, you are way up there and have so much of value to say and sing and share. Keep it “up.”

  10. Rob

    Thank you Jason for continuing to share your story. I had come to this afternoon needing some sort of song that would remind me of my redemptive potential through Jesus Christ. Maybe it was what has been going on in my life or maybe because I am restoring my daughters’ room with some fresh paint. Or maybe it was both. Either way this song continues its origin as a divine appointment. I was talking with a very dear friend last night about this very thing. But, as SAM mentioned in his post I love to have God speak through song so the message moves from my head to my heart.

  11. Ashley Elizabeth

    From time to time I stray from posting because I can’t think of anything more holy or intelligent to say other than “thank you.” But that’s all I have, because yet again, I’ve come to the Rabbit Room and sat at the feet of those smarter than I, and I’ve learned a great deal. God gave everything he had to recover me. Ah yes, the most wonderful of fairy tales that have come true in real life.

    Thank you.

  12. JWitmer

    Jason,

    Thanks so much for this. You put it so well, and your song rocks!

    A couple of months ago I wrote these similar thoughts in my personal journal/blog:

    Reading through the Old Testament with my kids (via Eegermeir’s Bible Story Book) has taught me a lot. …Today I am struck by the reason given for Israel’s frequent slides into idolatry. We are told that, over and over, they forgot what God had done for them, and began to worship other gods.

    Doesn’t it seem kind of odd that turning away from God is attributed to a failure of memory? What about: “The children of Israel found the worship of a fertility goddess more interesting”?

    Or, “The children of Israel got tired of traveling all the way to Shiloh to worship the Lord, and longed for the convenience of an Ashera pole”?

    But no, the Bible tells us that it was forgetting what God had done for them that led them astray. Without the bright truth of Yahweh’s covenant before them, the prevailing beliefs of their time must have seemed reasonable, even practical.

    I believe that God knew this would be a struggle for His people, and that is why so much of Israel’s faith tradition is devoted to remembering. We live a much less structured faith life, but I think that the battle to remember is still key. …

  13. Jess

    Dang, I’d freak out if Ron Block OR Jason Gray sat next to me on a plane (on purpose or not). It always makes me laugh when I realize out that the famous-ish people I think are amazing get just as excited as I would when they see someone THEY think is amazing. (If that last sentence makes no sense whatsoever, I apologize.)

  14. Becca

    That poor woman sitting behind Gray. She sees Chesterton back from the grave (even better than that time she saw Elvis at Taco Bueno) and he wants to sit by someone else. Just her luck. She’s probably a Calvinist now, and it’s all your fault, Ron.

    Unless she’s right about the Calvinism bit. In which case, the whole thing was inevitable.

    But I digress…

    My patron saint plays a banjo. Almost everywhere I start poking my nose into something good, he’s left a mark. I feel like maybe he’s also responsible for the resealable top on the new Oreo’s bag.

    I’m looking forward to the new song, Jason. I need to pray before I listen to it, because I get so proud of you people at times like this, I get obnoxious, and then I have to go back to square Ron all over again.

  15. Nick and Susan

    Becca, you do make me laugh 😀

    My boys use Math-U-See at home and they have to use these little blocks which all have ‘special’ names. Well one day I said to one of my boys, “Get One Block”, well my boys shouted “Mom, Mom you said get Ron Block!”, well of course you can’t say One Block without it sounding like Ron Block. Try it 😉

    One day I shall make this now hallowed math block a mini banjo and a little hat 😀

  16. Nick and Susan

    Jason,

    By the way, when I first heard Remind Me Who I am, it immediately struck a chord with me, as it brought to memory all that I’ve been learning about my identity in Christ from Ron Block myself. It was no surprise at all to read the song came about partially out of a conversation you had with him.

  17. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Becca, funny stuff.

    The real reason any Christ-indwelt person sins is because we’re not faithing that Christ lives in us and is our power to overcome in any temptation situation. This unbelief is a foothold for the devil, who uses it, through the desires of soul and body, to pump up a false self that wants to sin. It’s all smoke and mirrors (I would prefer to use a phrase with the initials B.S.), designed to keep us acting from an “old man” that doesn’t even exist anymore.

  18. Carrie Luke

    While standing in line for Behold the Lamb of God Charlotte this year, my friend pulled me aside and told me how she and some others were talking about me as one who’s faith runs very deep. “You seem to always drink from both; from a hope in heaven and a hope into today, here on earth.”

    I looked at her, laughed, and told her that she may then find it ironic that for the last month, I was struggling to even believe I was a Christian.

    All this to tee up the paradox of where I sat the first time I heard you sing, “I Am New.” As usual, a RR’er put words to a struggle that had me silent. Receiving the reminder of 2 Cor 5:17 from your hands that night opened up my heart to worship again in spirit and in truth.

    Such sweet acceptance in our lost places is voiced in your work, Jason. And, I can’t WAIT to get my hands on your “Breath of God” song.

  19. kelli

    I have been struggling with this for months and pretty seriously for a few weeks. I’m reading Tim Keller’s King’s Cross and listening to some of his podcasts, and his words are saturated with this same message…

    “Is he the one who gave everything he had in Jesus in order to recover us? Could it be that we are God’s treasure?”

    Simultaneously everything within me longingly cries out “Yes!” while the enemy’s voice whispers, “Really? He gave up everything for…you? You are His treasure? Ha!”

    And the battle goes on.

    Thank you, Jason, for the gift of this reminder (in post and in song).

  20. Leanne

    I frequently listen to New Life Live, a call-in Christian counseling program, and yesterday one of the shrinks was talking about finding relief from life’s pain in relationship. Relationship with God and with his people. It’s when we seek non-relational relief (like Jason pointed out in affairs, addictions, compulsive behaviors) that we get into trouble. The consolation for living in this fallen world needs to be found in true relationship and connection with our identity as “the beloved.”

    I like that phrase – relational relief.

  21. Mark Timmons

    Thanks brother for comforting us with the comfort you have received from God (2 Corinthians… I think). Amazing how that works! 🙂

  22. Abigail Stern

    Thank you so much for that encouraging reminder of what can be so easy to forget! 🙂

  23. Rushmore

    Posting this as a video and releasing it to radio is about the most mean-spirited thing I can envision. Whaddya mean there’s no little clicky link where I can send money and you’ll send a full pre-release album!!!??? It’s like waiting for Christmas knowing that it’s *almost* ready to ship. Probably you shouldn’t even tell us one’s coming – to quote that great philosopher Tom Petty: “the waiting is the hardest part”.

  24. Rushmore

    Pete:

    How often have I written “read, think, post”. Physician heal thyself.

    Ordered. Paid. Downloaded single. Eagerly awaiting the balance of sonic nirvana.

    Thanks!

  25. Brad

    Another Rabbit Room post brining me to tears…what is it with you guys!? :^) Thanks so much Jason.

  26. becky from NE

    “We can’t live under the oppression of inadequacy long before we start looking for ways to escape the shame and loneliness of it, and things go from bad to worse as we flee from the curse by running to things we hope will make us feel loved, desirable, and worthy.”

    As always, I love your posts, Jason. This paragraph above takes my thoughts to my favorite passage of scripture, Psalm 103. “He redeems my life from the pit, and crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

    We start out in a dark, lonely pit, unable to get out. And we dig ourselves deeper into the pit with the things we pursue to try and escape our predicament. But God reaches down into that dark, lonely hole and pulls us up into the light. He “crowns (us) with love and compassion”. I love this phrase–the idea of love sitting like a crown on my head. God gives me this beautiful thing that I’ve been trying so hard to find on my own. He satisfies my desires for love, acceptance and worthiness with things that are GOOD–as opposed to the things I’ve been trying to gain those things. And my youth is renewed. I’m like a child again. I soar like an eagle–the opposite of being stuck in a black hole in the ground.

    As the psalmist says, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul. And FORGET NOT…”

  27. Mike

    I’ve made it a point to ask folks if they believed that sin was a crime that needed to be punished or a disease that needed a cure?

    I found that I run from the law and to a physician.

  28. Adam Bennett

    Beautiful song, Jason! Thank you!

    I just finished reading “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard and this song seems to be a wonderful epilogue to the book. Willard has a fanastic way of describing the Life that we *ALREADY HAVE* in Christ and that if we are disciples of Christ, we are called to reflect his nature, the true Kingdom of God, that dwells within us.

    Despite all that, I’m still amazed at my ability to stand on the shores of the Red Sea of my life, watch as the waters peel back, walk across on dry land to the Promised Land and then immediately forget not only the miracle that I’ve witnessed, but also why God performed the miracle in the first place… because… I am His! I am owned by Him. He purchased me, with the blood of His perfect Son, no less. I’m amazed at how much God really loves us and surprised at how I coudl be decieved into believing in an “Angry God” for so long.

    I’ve also started the practice of reminding my kids who they are. That they are mine. That they belong to me. That their earthly home is with me. But also, that they are children of God. That their nature, their identity, the core of their person contains, reflects and holds before them the person of Jesus Christ. They are His. They are their heavenly Father’s, who is infinitely better than me as they’re earthly father.

    Thanks for this song! May the Father continue to work the nature of His Son deeper into you so that it is the only thing people see.

  29. Centricity Update 7/28

    […] •  Jason wrote a great essay on Remind Me Who I Am. In case you missed it, check it out HERE •  About.com mentioned Jason’s single in songs their Christian songs to watch. Check it […]

  30. Rachel

    What would you do if you really knew?
    What if your heart could feel
    The weight of the love that He carries for you?
    What if His love was real?
    What would you do if He stood there with you
    And showed you His nail-scarred hands?
    What would you do?
    What would it be worth to you if you could understand?

    What would you do if He stood in this room
    And whispered your name so clear?
    What if His voice was as soft as the wind,
    Yet thunderous in your ear?
    What would you do if He stood there with you
    And you felt the touch of His hand?
    What would you do?
    What would it be worth to you if you could understand?

    Would it be worth the price of the sacrifice?
    Would it be worth your life
    If you know the Love with No Limits…
    Loving at any price?

    What would you if He stood there with you
    And showed you His nail-scarred hands?
    What would you do?
    What would it be worth to you if you could understand?

  31. Gail

    Thanks for the song. I know you developed it because we so easily forget. I’ve struggled with remembering my identity in Christ! I especially want to thank you, however, for my mother, who is in the end stages of Alzheimer’s. It is a cruel disease but I believe our Good and Faithful God is able to remind her of who she is in Him!

  32. Mary Wolf

    I just read this blog and tears came to my eyes at the notion that God was the man in the parable and He gave Jesus to have us, His treasures. Thank you, Jason, and thank you for your touching music.

  33. Megan Woodyard

    I really am jealous that you all know God and can quote scripture and know that you are loved. I have been trying for some time to find what you have. I dont know how you become saved or maybe in reality I am not one of the chosen ones. Jason- you will be performing in Zanesville on December 9. I will be there to cheer you on because you are my favorite artist. The light that shines through you is so brillant. You are amazing and I wish I could be 1/4 of that.

  34. yankeegospelgirl

    Megan, there’s no need to be jealous. To have what we have requires only that you place your faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, renounce your sin, and follow him for the rest of your days in spirit and in truth.

    I say “only,” and perhaps that seems silly given that surrendering your entire life is hardly a trivial matter. But in the end, I think you will find that He gives you yourself back. Following any other road will only cause you to be enslaved to whatever you choose besides Jesus.

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