I know – a part two that doesn’t have the same name as a part one. I’m quirky like that.
A long time ago I wrote a piece about how mothers sometimes feel about their names. The short answer? We have moments when we hate our name. The other day, much to the amusement of the Target cashier, I told my children I had changed my name to Beulah and would only respond to that name. Now this made me giggle because I met a Beulah once. My grandmother took care of my great-aunt for a long time and there was a distant relative named Beulah close by. One Sunday we were visiting and Gram told my dad we had to pick up (and this is where she forgot we were in the car, I think!) “Big Mouth Beulah” on our way to church. She apologized to us of course and asked for forgiveness but then Beulah got in the car and we understood. Never. Stopped. Talking. Her name fit her identity!
I pressed publish on yesterday’s post and then zipped over to Twitter to make sure it linked properly (did I say quirky?). What to my wandering eye should appear but a neat Tweet by Mandisa (one of my all time favorite worshipful, real, amazing, can’t wait to meet ’em in heaven people!) with the link to Matthew West’s video (another one of those people) of “Hello My Name Is…” I just watched it again and cried – again. There is a moment when a man holds up a sign that reads “Pardoned” and it never fails to break me.
But that’s the power of God isn’t it? In my meditations and ponderings about names, I started to realize how many people in the Bible have encounters with God involving names. Adam was named by God. Abram became Abraham (Genesis 17:5); Sarai became Sarah when the first covenant was made. Jacob encountered God and with the renewal of the covenant was renamed Israel (Genesis 35:10). Zacharias had a face to face with the angel of the Lord and was struck silent over a name (Luke 1:18-20). Joseph was given a dream over the name of Jesus. Simon became Peter at Jesus’ feet; Saul became Paul at God’s redemption. Encountering the Most High changes our identity.
I often wonder what people think when they hear my name mentioned. Do they think “Frazzled Sarah with too many kids”? How about “Crazy Lady with the Barking Dogs”? Before my encounter with God, I might have named myself “Sarah of the Raisin Faith.” But then I took a beat up, bruised, dried out, shred of faith to the foot of the Cross.
The end of that visit with Beulah brought a veritable mountain of concord grapes to our doorstep. I consider Concords the single most fabulous grape on the planet. They have a deep, dark purple almost navy skin that pops open to spill out the sweetest grape juice you have ever consumed. There’s a reason Welch’s uses Concords! THAT is what my encounter with God feels like to me. I would now rename myself “Sarah of the Concord Faith.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
But sometimes people resist a new name. My children refused to call me Beulah. I was still Mom no matter how I tried to ignore them. Sometimes other people want to continue to see us as the old person – maybe because we still live a little too close to the same behavior pattern of the past. Sometimes we don’t want a new identity. It’s scary, strange, and sometimes really hard to change.
Other people embrace the new identity. Consider marriage – I love all that my marriage and new name have given me. So it should be with a new identity in Christ. It’s a new beginning of a life bigger and better than we can even imagine. We only learn that if we pop the skin and embrace the sweet juice of change.
I don’t often extend an “invitation” here but I would love to hear (if you would be so kind to share) what your pre-encounter and post-encounter faith names would be. I would also love to hear if you feel like you haven’t ever really had a name changing encounter. I firmly believe in the power of prayer and would love the chance to stand beside you in your journey.