who am i?

In the Broadway version of Les Miserables, reformed convict number 24601 muses the question, “Who am I?” Really, his story was not much different from other embittered criminals.

Except… he met grace.

Afterward he shed the name Valjean, slipping easily into new clothes and a fresh life — determined to forget the past.

(But redemption doesn’t work like that, does it? It’s much more relentless in its loving.)

And so, against the golden vision of what he had become lay the undeniable gloom of who he had been; only the recollection of Calvary could reconcile the fiery light of grace with the deep shadows of the past.

“Who am I?
Can I conceal myself for evermore?
Pretend I’m not the man I was before?
And must my name until I die
Be no more than an alibi?…
My soul belongs to God, I know
I made that bargain long ago
He gave me hope when hope was gone
He gave me strength to journey on

Who am I? Who am I?
I am Jean Valjean!…
Who am I?

This is my story; a strange and sanctified twist of the already arrived and the not-yet-but-I’m-coming. What I’ve mainly learned about myself can be summarized in five words (oddly enough, the number most often identified in the New Testament with grace). I have learned am learning that

“I am not the Christ” (John 1:19-20)

What remains is an eclectic collection of paradoxes, ironies, and awkward twists of tonal diversity (thrown in, just for fun). By His grace and I am a:

child of the living God (John 1:12-13)

sinner redeemed by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:4-10)

book lover voracious reader I read or I die

lover of theology, rainy days and a cup pots of hot coffee,

consummate techie with a zest for wannabe photography

seminary student with a penchant for (loving) debate

companion of broken things and wounded hearts

I am a wife and mother — a twice-failed Martha often found quailing at the base of Mount Washmore, clinging to the patchwork grace woven for me from before the foundation of the world (Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:3–10, 2 Timothy 1:9).

In short, I am a Sinner, a scholar; a sometime blogger living in the shadowlands, somewhere between doubt and doxology.

11 thoughts on “who am i?

  1. Finally I can put a face to your writing, and what a beautiful face it is. I have to agree with Petra, beautiful inside and out. I love what you do with words and the camera also, and I have to admit I think is my favorite blog. Walking that thin line between utter joy at the eternal blessings God has given us and the grief that often comes with living in this fallen world is not an easy thing, and you do it with beauty and yes much grace :-). Love and blessings to you Dear Sister in Christ. Gotta run, I need to get back to reading the rest of your handiwork.

  2. I am just so humbled by your kindness! Broken Chords was and is a powerful inspiration to me. I have been a faithful follower of your blog for quite some time and I have to say — so many times, when feeling broken and discouraged, I would open your blog and find words of encouragement and grace to continue on. I only regret not having told you earlier. I suppose that, having experienced the other side of the blogosphere I know what a couple of kind words can mean. That said, continue on in your sweet labor for Him. You are a blessing to far more people than you realize, an absolute adornment of the Kingdom.


  3. Ahem. I believe the same could be said about you! I do thank you, both for your writing AND for your kind words.

    (And look! You’re a redhead too!)

  4. Came across your blog here rather randomly though, as the Rabbi’s say, coincidence isn’t a Kosher word :-). Enjoy what I’m seeing as I have many similar thoughts and interests. (love Ed Welch’s stuff and am currently reading Mataxas’- Boenhoeffer) I am also ok w/doubt, especially in non-essentials. For me, in short, the essentials are God loves me, my sins are forgiven and and I’ll spend eternity in heaven. I also am okay w/the “already…not yet” nature of my Faith. Coincidently, (oops not kosher) yesterday I penned the following as the capstone/theological basis for a Recovery Ministry I just launched- Rampant Recovery Network (RRN):

    “It is the goal of RRN to always allow it’s Name to influence it’s practice. (ie RAMPANT is an acrostic for Robbers, Adulterers, Murderers, Pardoned And Not Thankful communicating spirit of the law per Jesus in Mt 5) RRN desires to present the hope which Jesus brings in a balanced and honest way. This is done by recognizing the “already” and “not yet” truth of the Christian faith relative to Recovery. As Christians we ALREADY have everything needed for a clean and sober life. We have the Ultimate Mentor in Jesus, Forgiveness of sins, Unconditional Love, Power for living, Supportive Peers and an Instruction Manuel just to get the list started. However, we have NOT YET fully experienced these blessings and will not until we stand face to face with our King in Heaven. Until then we must do battle with an Ultimate Enemy in Satan, a Traitor within called the “Flesh” and a Worldly Kingdom which runs countrary to our the new way of life. Along the way we will sin and be sinned against, but we will also continue to make forward progress by humbly relying on that we have in Christ to get us safely home.”

    Cool coincidence I’d say.

    I do have one editorial critique for you. :-). Actually, all it is is for an addition I would like to see added to your “In short list.” (In short, I am a Sinner, a scholar;…) Drum roll please…I would love to see you add “a Saint” in the same company as the bumbling believers (among whom I am chief bumbler) St Paul addressed in his letters by usually calling them “Saints.” We are, in my opinion, definitely “sinners saved by grace.” Saying I’m a “sinner” keeps me humble and saying I’m a “saved” sinner keeps me hopeful.

    Jon aka Ramper (Robber, Adulterer, Murderer, Pardoned and Ever Repenting)

  5. Thank God for “awaiting moderation” as the acrostic for RAMPANT is “…and Now Thankful” and not as I wrote above “…Not Thankful.” Hopefully, this wasn’t a Freudian slip and Lord if it was I am thankful believe me :-).

  6. ramper: love, love, love what you’re doing at your website!! Mercy and recovery ministries are my heart! There is so much need in the world; so many questions and so much raw carnage (I am speaking at a soul level here). What other source of healing is there? If believers will not run to the need, bearing the Gosepl, what real hope is there? I know of none.

    (Ok. Obviously, you don’t want to get me started… ;o)

    I saw on your website that you all minister to the mentally ill as well. Not sure if you’ve come across a resource for schizophrenia but thought I would send this one your way: http://iholger.wordpress.com/. Their tagline is “Schizophrenia. Christianity. Hope.” I’ve followed them for two or three years now and I have to say that I have not encountered a more Christ-centered, God-honoring, Biblically-based discussion on the topic. Seriously, they rank up there with Welch and the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. Plus, they offer the personal perspective of having been there, applied the Gospel, and given the glory in a circumstance few really ever broach. Their site is raw, real,and absolutely adorned with grace. I simply can’t say enough about them.

    “Editorial crititque” made me laugh out loud (in a GOOD way! :o) and the reminder about Paul is timely. I confess I was tempted to pass over the idea until I read this: “Saying I’m a “sinner” keeps me humble and saying I’m a “saved” sinner keeps me hopeful.” How very humbling. How very Christ-exalting. You are right. In order that He be exalted in His finished work on the Cross, I’ll make that change soon.

    God bless you today!

  7. Thanks for heads up on http://iholger.wordpress.com/. Look forward to checking it out. Glad you enjoyed my site and my editorial critique :-). Jesus truly is worthy of exaltation for , among other things, His finished work on cross. How awesome to be known by God as one clothed in the righteousness of Christ!!! PTL

  8. Thanks for following my blog. I hope you find it helpful and profitable Looks like we have a lot in common – a love for God and for books, and also following some of the same blogs. I’m looking forward to exploring your site more! May the Lord bless your walk with Him and your endeavors for His glory!

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