The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery by David G. Benner
Coming in at less than 100 pages, one might assume that the slim spiritual companion The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery by David Benner couldn’t have in it enough that’s remarkable, enough to stir the soul, cause one to seriously stop and think, or better yet, actually feel a sense of help along the journey of becoming. Those assuming would be mistaken.
The truth is, I must’ve been one of those people, because this book was collecting dust on my bookshelf only a week ago. When I ran out of reading material, my younger daughter challenged me by pulling books from my bedroom bookshelf and asking me to recall what this one and that one were about, and whether I’d finished this particularly long one or if, as she suspected, the dog ear on page 132 meant that I’d lost interest and fizzled to a halt, never to return.
During this rather revealing exercise, it became apparent that there were several books on my shelf I’d completely forgotten that I’d purchased (or perhaps David had purchased). One of us had certainly intended on reading them, but as with all good intentions, life happened.
This – The Gift of Being Yourself – was one of the victims of our life. For how long, I don’t have the faintest clue. What I am quite sure of, though, is that nothing is a mistake in God’s eternal plan, and all of my mistakes, he can and will turn into good. Such is the case with this unbelievably lovely and thought-provoking book. From its first page to its last, I am grateful.
For the past three years, I’ve been on a road of self-discovery, only for the longest time I had no idea that that’s what it was. When you reach 40 years old, you assume (wrongly) that you know yourself, and that the identity you’ve come to cultivate so carefully over all of these years is, well, solid (also wrong). Enter everyone’s own, customized version of a mid-life crisis. This is when, in a nutshell, we realize that we are not who we thought we were or want to be, and we understand only that there is so very much that we do not understand. It’s downright terrifying.
For many of us, the latter half of our lives is the time when we slow down and begin to unpack what we spent most of the first half of our lives obsessively planning. Somewhere in there, we lost who our Creator created us to be for the sake of eternity and convinced ourselves of the importance of worldly goals, dreams, and boxes to check off of our to-do list of life that we ourselves created.
Cue The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner. Benner brings us back to the comforting truth that the person we were created to be and Christ-in-us are one and the same. Translation: The more we practice letting down our guard with God, and allowing him to save us through our surrender, the closer our innate identity comes into focus for us. As Benner explains, “Finding and living out your true self is fulfilling your destiny.”
The double blessing in all of this is that in seeking a deeper knowing of God, we in turn discover a much better idea of our own selves. And this is exactly as our Maker intended. Benner so eloquently lays this out for us:
The mystery of the Christian gospel is that our deepest, truest self is not what we think of as our own separate self but the self that is one with Christ. This is the reason that the self that embarks on the journey of Christ-following is not the self that arrives. The self that begins the spiritual journey is the self of our own creation, the self we thought ourselves to be. This is the self that dies on the journey. The self that arrives is the self that was loved into existence by Divine Love. This is the person we were destined from eternity to become — the I that is hidden in the “I AM.”
And so, dear friends, I highly recommend this book to you if you:
- Are in the spiritual wildnerness and are seeking direction; or
- Are 40+ (enough said there); or
- Have battled serious adversity in your life, the kind that brought you to the bottom of yourself; or
- Have had a sneaky sense that there’s more to you and meant for you than you are living out right now; or
- Heck, if you are a book lover like me and are craving soul nourishment that you’ll keep on your nightstand to revisit again and again — what the Bible calls fruit that lasts (John 15:16 NIV).
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV)