I am a flower quickly fading (here today and gone tomorrow)
A wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I’m calling; Lord, you catch me when I’m falling,
And you’ve told me who I am: I am yours. (Casting Crowns)
Judas brought a company of soldiers and some guards from the chief priests and Pharisees. They came there carrying lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus knew everything that was to happen to him, so he went out and asked, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I Am.” (Judas, his betrayer, was standing with them.) When he said, “I Am,” they shrank back and fell to the ground. (John 18:3-6; context)
It is amazing to me that non-native speakers can grasp the English language when the most common verb in English has half a dozen forms that follow absolutely no pattern when the verb is conjugated. The verb, of course, is “to be.” The confusion commences immediately when no one besides Hamlet ever actually says “to be” in a sentence. We say “she is,” or “you are” or “I was” or “y’all were.” And in the first person singular, present, active, indicative, we say, “I am.”
Simply stating “I am” with no predicate nominative or adjective is a peculiar way of responding to someone. The normal conversation goes like this: How are you? I am cold/tired/happy/depressed/distracted/delirious/desperate/alliterative. But how would it sound if I were to delete the predicate?
How are you? I am.
At first glance, this doesn’t make much sense because we are so used to hearing a modifier (like “tired” or “hungry”). But this response reaches to a deep, fundamental level of meaning that is never expected when the question is asked. How are you? In other words, How are you here? How do you exist? Now the response makes a bit more sense. “I am”: that is, I have be-ing. I do not quite know how I exist, but I know that I do. I am a human being (be-ing). The –ing in the word shows that my “be” is continuous. When I respond, “I am,” I affirm that I continue, persist, abide – though I do not quite understand how I do these things. God knows how I exist, and that seems good enough to allow my existence to happen.
And that’s good enough for me.
Dear God, in the beginning you spoke creation into existence and you continue to breath life into the universe. Thank you for giving me – a tiny piece of that creation – the being that comes from your eternal Being. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, knowing that you are the foundation of all creation. I exist because you have spoken and loved me into existence.