And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. Genesis 35:10
God has always been an identity changer. One cannot be near someone like God and not be severely affected. Either one is repelled and runs the other way or is smitten by His glory and wants to make Him their home. The identity-changing nature of God has never been more evident than when He personally changed the names of people. Jacob, in spite of all of his failures, persevered with good faith intentions and God acknowledged the change in his heart with a name change. The name Jacob means ‘supplanter’….one who takes something by force through treachery. Fitting, since he tricked his brother and stole his blessing. Years later, God saw that Jacob was one who literally wrestled with Him in order to receive God’s blessing. He persevered until faith in God defined Him. God chose the name Israel for him….one who perseveres with God.
While God may not give new earthly names to every person, my identity has radically changed if I was adopted into His family. God says that I’m no longer an alien, but a resident of heaven. He says that I’m no longer an enemy, but friend. I’m no longer cursed, but blessed. I’m no longer lost, but saved. I’m no longer rejected because of my sin, I’m chosen. I’m no longer unclean, but righteous. I’m no longer without purpose, I’ve got a calling. I’m no longer hopeless, but hopeful.
Many more pages could capture more identity changers but is this short list not enough for me to ask myself, “Have I really embraced my new identity? And if not, why?” It’s hard to digest that I’m no longer who I was if people around me treat me as if nothing has changed. I’ve also got a spiritual enemy, Satan, who is bent on reinforcing, through hurtful circumstances, that I’m the same old sinner without hope.
How can I immerse myself in the wonder of a changed identity? By spending more time with the Name-Changer. He will whisper each new name in my ear if I’m engaged in a two-way conversation. Prayer is not about me talking. It’s more about Him talking. Never has His voice been more clear than in the pages of His love letter to me. Scriptures are not primarily for study. They are for the strengthening of faith. They are the words of a Father to His child. In the stillness of today, God would want me to hear, “You’re mine!”
Let me bask in the spiritual cooing that comes from running home. Amen