Recognizing Who I Am

By Ward Shope

It seems that facial recognition is the hot technological innovation at the moment.  Of course, NCIS has been using it for years – according to the TV show.  They’re able to identify anyone in seconds with just a picture.  Even my laptop uses some rendition of the software.  When I open the cover, I stare at the little flashing red light and it logs me in.  No one else in my family can successfully use it.  But it isn’t perfect.  If the lighting isn’t right, or if I’m not staring right at that little red circle, or I’m not wearing my glasses, I’m probably not going to get in either.  Sometimes it asks me to move closer, and then further away, and when it has exhausted all options, it gives up.  Fortunately, I can log in using a PIN number or an “old school” password.  So that makes me believe that it’s still not any more secure than my password – just a little more convenient.

I don’t really know what that little red light is tracking.  Is it all those physical traits and measurements that NCIS measures?  How many of them?  It seems that if it is only tracking 12, chances are my laptop could mistake someone else for me.  If it’s 64, the exponential probabilities are that there’s almost no chance someone else with similar traits will even come near my laptop.

That reminds me that there really is an objective me.  My physical traits are pretty constant.  I might lose or gain weight.  I might – or rather I am – losing my hair and I could even lose a hand.  But most people who truly know me aren’t going to have much doubt that I’m me when they see me.

There are also so many other mannerisms, character patterns, thought processes, and typical verbal and emotional responses that make me me.  If I were to respond like someone else, people would either doubt the authenticity of my response (I’m trying to be someone I’m not) or whether I am who they thought I was.  I can fool some of the people some of the time if they only know me some.  But anyone who knows me beyond a passing acquaintance will unmask me.

When Jesus tells me that all the hairs on my head are numbered (Luke 12:7), I’m assuming he knows that number – in real time!  It dispels any thought that I might slip anything past him.  On the one hand, I am an amazing and unique wonder that he has created (Psalm 139:14).  On the other, my lack of compassion for others and for Him must be glaring in his eyes – for it runs counter to his design.  Still, even those misdirected parts of me he knows in nano-detail and sets his love on me anyway.  He knows far more about me than I do, and I struggle to believe I am as loved as I apparently am.

Yet for all the objective knowledge there is about me – and God knows it completely – change is also possible.  There are things that are true about me, and only about me.  But the broken parts can be reforged as his Spirit works.  All of these things remind me that looking to him as the One who knows and the One who can graciously change me is the One who deserves my praise.