This Is Who I Am
MAC: I remember coming up with the idea for this song when we were in Charlottesville, Virginia, recording the first batch of demos for the album in early 2007. We were in Dave Matthews’ studio, all of us living on site for a week making music together. It was a great time, and I woke up one morning with this music idea in my head saying the words ‘I’m a son of a good man, I‘m a child of an angel.’ I thought then that I’d go through the whole idea of who I am and write it out.
QUESTION: So was this a case of lyrics coming before the music for this one?
MAC: It was case of a little piece of the music coming along with the lyrics, and then the lyrics growing from those first phrases, but the starting point was really asking myself ‘what it this song going to be about?’ I wanted to write the song and include both the good things and the bad things about me. For example, the song includes the line ‘a saint and a sinner, a lover and a fighter.’ There’s this tug of war going on in all of our personalities.
QUESTION: Did you have any particular Bible verses in mind?
I wasn’t thinking of any scripture specifically, but definitely was thinking from the spiritual standpoint of knowing that because God’s Spirit lives in us He takes hold of the negative stuff and changes it into the positive of we allow Him to. That’s the basis of the song- there’s a lot of great things about me, but a lot of bad things too, and even with the good things that’s not going to be good enough so I need God to continue to take even the good things and make them better and especially to take the bad things away or change them for the better. I think all of us as people want to be better- so how do we do that? There are definitely steps we can take in our lives ourselves, and decisions we can take to make us better people, but ultimately that’s not going to really matter unless we allow God to change us. That doesn’t mean don’t take those steps yourself, but it does mean relying on God to actually change you when you do take the steps.
DAVID: Our identity is everything when it comes to our confidence and knowing our place in God's eyes and the eyes of the world. Everyone wants to be know as X or Y, this or that and we all want to be defined by something or someone. “This is Who I Am” is simply addressing the many directions our identity can be pulled in as we come to grips with who God says we are.
Who am I?
One of the most important questions that sooner or later we have to ask ourselves is ‘Who am I?’ Discovering our identity is crucial to our wellbeing and to living a fulfilled life. Ultimately, we can never be comfortable with who we are unless we discover who God is and let him reveal our true identity. First and foremost our identity is as children of God, sons and daughters of the King. Whatever misgivings, hurts or insecurities that we carry with us from our families and upbringing or from other people’s perceptions of us, like the Apostle Paul we can say ’But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect’ (1 Corinthians 15:10).
MOSES MEETS “I AM WHO I AM”
Read Exodus 3:1-15
When Moses has an incredible encounter with God through a burning bush, God commissions him to rescue the exiled people of Israel from the clutches of Pharaoh in Egypt. Like many of us might, Moses has an identity crisis and begins to doubt his ability and his worth:
‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ Exodus 3:13
God responds by telling Moses that He will be with him every step of the way. Still not convinced, Moses wants to know how he’ll reply if the Israelites ask who has sent him- what name shall he give to God?
God simply says to Moses: I AM WHO I AM.
For the ancient Hebrews, a name carried with it far more than in our modern lives. The exiled Hebrews would have looked for the significance of a person’s quality and character by the interpretation of that person’s name. In other words, in their time of great distress and exile, what would the name of God signify to them? God answers Moses in a way that sounds like a riddle to our modern ears, but in reality he is giving Moses a very strong statement about His powerful and unique presence with past, present and future generations. By using the Hebrew word and verb that He does, God is saying ‘I am truly the one that has existed, does exist, will exist and will be powerfully present with you in the situation to which I am sending you. That’s who I am!’ For the first time, God uses the third-person of the verb ‘to be’ with the four consonants YHWH which we now translate as Yahweh. This would be his name for all time, and would signify His personality, His presence, His authority, His majesty, and His reputation.
You can read the some more of this story in the remainder of Exodus chapter 3 and into chapter 4.
Throughout the remainder of Moses’ initial encounter with Yahweh, he still has much doubt about his capability of carrying out what God requires of him. Yahweh gives Moses three miracles to convince the Israelites that he does indeed represent the God of their fathers. Yet still Moses is unsure- this time about his ability to speak eloquently, so Yahweh instructs Moses to take his well-spoken brother, Aaron, with him and in due course Aaron tells the Israelites all that Yahweh had promised, and Moses performs the miraculous signs Yahweh had given him. The Israelites were overwhelmed at Yahweh’s care for them and bowed down to worship Him. The return of God’s chosen people had begun, and Moses had taken an important step. Moses had a revelation of who God is, and he had a revelation of how God could equip a frail and imperfect human and use him for eternal purposes.
JESUS - THE GREAT ‘I AM’
On many occasions in John’s gospel, Jesus uses the phrase ‘I am’ to signify that he is God. In John chapter 8, Jesus is teaching the religious leaders in the Temple, and he says this to them:
I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.” John 8:24 The Message
A little later in the conversation Jesus makes this statement:
“Believe me,” said Jesus, “I am who I am long before Abraham was anything.” John 8:58 The Message
In other words Jesus is saying that He is the I AM. He is eternal and divine, truly God.
THIS IS WHO YOU ARE
God the Father and God the Son have a habit of re-naming people, thus helping them discover their true identity and true purpose.
Yahweh tells Abram that he will now be called Abraham because he will be a father of many nations. Saul became Paul after an encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road and changed from a persecutor of Jesus’ followers to become a preacher, a great missionary and writer of huge chunks of the New Testament. Jesus gave Simon the name Peter that signified he would be the rock on which the Christian church would be built.
If you truly and humbly seek a revelation from the Lord, he might give you a new name, but he’ll definitely give you a new identity, a new value and a new purpose.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12 NIV
Old School Third Day - Listen to ‘Who I am’ from Conspiracy No. 5
Written by Pastor Nigel James