A few years ago I began seeing a proliferation of t-shirts and bumper stickers that screamed, “My church is kind of big deal." A quick google search reveals several churches who have run similar campaigns or sermons series.
English is filled with strange idioms. Take for example “one fell swoop” which holds the meaning of “all in one go” or “in a single action.” Chances are you’ve heard the phrase and said it yourself. But do you know where it originates? We have William Shakespeare to thank for the expression. In MacBeth, Macduff upon learning of the murder of his wife and children responds, “Oh hell-kite! … All my pretty chickens, and their dam At one fell swoop?”1
Literature and pop culture lend to language many of the idioms we use today, and dozens of our common expressions come to us from the Holy Bible. Here are six you might not know came from the Old Testament:
I had not given much thought to the word “begotten” at the time Katie and I adopted two boys.
Just a couple of weeks before our daughter's first birthday we climbed the steps of the courthouse, and not-so-patiently waited outside the courtroom. Adoption was a decision we both knew was right, but that knowledge couldn’t work to suppress the nerves produced by our impending legal responsibilities.
Within the hour the gavel would slam the desk, and Katie and I went from having one child to three. The boys had been in our home for some time as foster children, but prior to that day, they were not legally ours. They belonged to others: first their birth parents, then the state. But on that day, the sordid DHS case was closed, marking the beginning of a new and challenging saga.
We were now a family of five: two adopted children, and Georgia, our only begotten.
After high hopes for a productive day, all seemed lost when the clock read 3:03 PM and Katie and I were already exhausted. It was at that point we realized we had devoted nearly the entire day to food.
Upon waking we acquiesced to the children’s demands for breakfast. Overripe bananas and Peanut Butter Crunch. Then we proceeded to appropriate funds for the month during our monthly budget meeting in which we designated a grotesque sum for groceries and eating out. Shortly thereafter we planned meals for the week, then assembled a grocery list accordingly. By this time it was the lunch hour, so we dressed and drove to the nearest eatery all six of us could stomach on our way to the supermarket. Never grocery shop on an empty stomach. At the market we did our worst, traversing the aisles and playing Santa to our list. After paying, we made the trek home and unloaded the groceries. “Just leave those out.” I said to Katie. "I’ll need those things when I cook dinner."
It was disheartening to dedicate such a large part of our day to something so fleeting as food. In a few hours we’d be hungry again, nullifying the two meals we’d already eaten. And in a week, all the groceries would be gone.
Part of this scenario is the reality of four children in the house. But another part is the reality of being human. Food, as pleasing as it can be, is simply a mechanism for survival. If you don’t eat, you die, and your body will make sure you’re aware of the fact. But has it always been this way?
Isn't that the first thing you ask after meeting someone? Other than first name, it seems to be the most important piece of information you can obtain. Once we get those two data points, we can begin to accurately triangulate our new acquaintance's identity.
And since we place such a high value on occupation (I use the term loosely), it's no wonder that the loss of a job leads to a loss of identity. It's no wonder stay-at-home parents despair when their children leave home for good to go to college. Their job is done.
We wrap up our identities in what we do. When we lose that thing—whatever it is we do—we feel a loss of purpose. As an author I have struggled with this. If a book doesn’t sell well or isn’t reviewed well, then I must not be worth very much. It is hard for me to separate my worth from the books.
But the truth God has been reminding me of is this: Your identity lies not in what you do, but to whom you belong.
Easy to say, right? But unfortunately for us humans, it’s not as simple as that. And the more I’ve thought about that statement, the more I’ve realized just how deep the problem goes.