Names of God: I AM
by Greta Suchy
The first time God called Himself I AM is in Exodus 3:14. God has just told Moses for the first time that he is to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and Moses has proceeded to question God on the details and plausibility of His plan. He says, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”, and he asks what he is to tell the Israelites God’s name is. God says to Moses “I AM WHO I AM” and to tell the Israelites “I AM has sent me to you”.
I feel like we (or at least I) expend a lot of our thoughts worrying about ourselves. Aside from our thoughts that are more obviously about ourselves, “I am tired,” “I wish I was like so-and-so,” “Why do I have this pain?”and “How will I ever get all this done?” many of our thoughts that we may think are more oriented on our relationship with God are often still very much focused on ourselves. Like Moses we worry that we do not understand how God will work out His plan, or that we are not good enough to do what He is asking us to do. We may worry that we are not walking close enough to God, or we pat ourselves on the back when we feel we are.
What if we stopped focusing on ourselves so much, if when God says I AM, we rested in that and stopped occupying ourselves with what we are? Granted, sometimes we need to examine our lives so that we can recognize and grow in areas of weakness, but I think in general a lot of the thoughts we have focused on ourselves can be destructive. Looking back on Moses, it is easy to think that He should have trusted God more, that it was silly of him to later say to God that he was insufficiently eloquent for the task at hand and beg God to send someone else, but I think we often succumb to similar thoughts and questioning.
If we honestly assess our circumstances based on ourselves and our own capabilities, it does not put us in a very good place. We are sinful, we are weak, we are human and we will die. When we speak of ourselves, we cannot truthfully follow the words “I am” with anything that we could do by our own power to fix the brokenness in the world or our own lives. God, on the other hand, later follows His statement of I AM with “The Way,” “The Truth,” and “The Life.” When God says “I AM”, it is much more powerful, because it can be followed by more infinitely many more wondrous things than we could comprehend.
It doesn’t matter who I am and if I think I am able to do what God is calling me to. It only matters that He is. In Galatians 2:20 Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Just as it was completely by God’s power that Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, everything we do to serve Him is not by our own power, but by Him living in us and working through us.
It is very easy and normal to center our thoughts around ourselves, but I think we need to make a conscious effort to re-orient our thoughts to God when we find ourselves fixating on ourselves. If we are focused on God, not so much living ourselves as letting Him live through us, we should be less susceptible to earthly desires as well. I know sometimes I become so caught up with some worry or desire in my life that I neglect to worship and thank God for who He is and all the ways He has blessed us until I can somehow resolve or forget it. If we are fixating on and recognizing God’s power and goodness, though, we need not be anxious about our lives, because He is in control, and we will be less prone to desire worldly things, as they will pale in comparison to His majesty.