There are about 300 instances, in the Bible, where the writers tried to capture what they thought God was saying about Himself when he said, “I am…” Such as, “I am the bread of life, I am the way,” etc. But a couple of times, Jesus or God simply state “I AM” or “I exist” (eimi). This is a deeper statement to make, just like if we said, “I am” without adding “I am a teacher, I am an introvert,” etc. To say, “I exist” without any modifiers is an attempt to contact that deeper part of us that is uniquely us.
Some have labeled this the true self, or other words that hope to help us understand better. But this exercise is not really an exercise of the mind, and in reality, giving the I AM identifiers only limits it. I think it is worth the effort to explore this deeper identity, but maybe the best exercise would be to strip off what I AM is NOT.
The I AM is not created by us. We did not invent or conceive of this isness that is uniquely us. Although we developed and manicured our image and careers and reputations, the I AM was not initiated by us. We can relate to Jesus in that the I AM points to our eternalness and mystery of its origins.
The I AM will not go away. When we sit with ourselves and remove all the superficial and surface level concerns and perceptions, we may want to ask the question, “Is this going to go away someday?” Much of we may seem temporal and fleeting, but the the I AM is always sensed as something eternal.
The I AM doesn’t belong to a system. Religion was invented by men to help us understand the Divine, so we developed systems that seemed to provide order and stability. But these systems proved inadequate, demonstrated by the hundreds of thousands of different belief systems and religions that populate the globe. There may be some benefit, but the I AM doesn’t require a system. Like God said to Moses, the self says to us, “I AM WHAT I AM.”
The I AM doesn’t belong to any classification. When we look deep in our Isness, we don’t sense that it is male or female, and certainly not a part of a race or creed or people group. It simply IS and that is enough. Sometimes when we experience this true nature of ourselves, we feel the feminine or masculine more or we have compassion for certain people groups; but maybe this is a more feeling of completeness than the corner our ego might have backed us into.
The I AM is not focused on performing. So much of our ego, or first half of life, is centered around doing and producing. Some of this may be necessary to survive in the world we find ourselves in; but this eternal part of us doesn’t need to do, it is simply being what it is. Jesus words, “I exist,” ring true when we realize the I AM in us doesn’t need to win awards or be compensated, it is simply present.
The I AM doesn’t care about the calendar or time. Presence is always most important. It isn’t trying to accomplish tasks or maintain a reputation, or a label we have assigned to ourselves. It isn’t going somewhere or looking forward to something or waiting for anything. It simply exists because it IS.
We could probably go on for pages and just ask questions like does it have an end or beginning or does it need anything, etc. But, maybe the most effective thing to do at this point is simply to be with it. The invincible preciousness that is within all of us needs only to be discovered and experienced.
Say hello to the I AM that is uniquely you!
I wish you well on your journey!
Be where you are, be who you are,
Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!