Naming, Name Changes, and Being Made New

Her name suits her.

She asks us about it all the time and we’ve told her the story over and over.

Why is she named Victoria Eileen and what does it mean anyway?

You’re named after your grandmothers, we tell her, Godly women who are strong in their faith. We prayed over our first baby, prayed about naming her just right— a name that was clearly feminine and clearly strong, a name for an overcomer, a fighter, a stand-up-for-what-is-right kind of woman of God.

Victoria—“Victorious One.”

It fits this feisty little person, the perfect name from the first day I held her in my arms in the hospital and she screamed and screamed, trying desperately hard in her newborn way of making her needs known. She befuddled nurses and her first-time momma.

Yet, submitted to God, believing in Jesus, with His Spirit in her, she’s a mighty force to be reckoned with underneath her princess exterior of swirly skirts and long blonde hair.

When she asks us about her name, we tell her the whole story of what it means, and why we picked it and what we hope it says about her future and her character.

I can’t imagine how that conversation went in Hosea’s house.

God told the prophet Hosea to marry a “promiscuous woman.”  His marriage was to be a living testimony of how the long-suffering God remained faithful to His people Israel, despite their ongoing adultery with foreign gods and idols.

That sounds hard enough.  Yet, in obedience, he married Gomer, a frequent runaway lover.

Then God told Hosea to have children with this faithless wife.

When she had a daughter, God told them to name her “Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them” (Hosea 1:6 NIV).

Then she had a son and God said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God” (Hosea 1:9 NIV)

The Message translates these names as “No-Mercy” and “Nobody.”

Every time moms in the marketplace cooed over these precious babies and asked, “What’s the baby’s name?” the answer came back as a label and message from God.

No-Mercy.

Nobody.

Have you ever felt labeled and even condemned by your name, your heritage, a nickname, a curse, the hurtful words of others that you can’t seem to erase from memory?

Has your past held you captive?

Surely these two children could relate to your pain.

But the beautiful thing about Jesus is that He doesn’t leave us untouched by His presence.  He’s a Creator God, making things new, making US new.

He changes us and renames us, giving us a new identity in Him.  Paul tells us:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

In Hosea 2:1, God tells the prophet:

Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’

Or as the Message says:“Rename your brothers ‘God’s Somebody.’  Rename your sisters ‘All Mercy.’”

Eugene Peterson asks: Under what circumstances have you seen “No Mercy” turned into “All Mercy?”  How about “Nobody” changed to “God’s Somebody?”

That’s our story, yours and mine!  Our story of redemption and transformation, how we’re shedding who we used to be and stepping into new clothes of righteousness—new names, new lives.

Hosea’s kids probably had to fight for their new identity.  Townsfolk likely slipped up time after time.  “No-Mercy,” they’d say, and she’d reply, “That’s not my name anymore!  Haven’t you heard the good news?  My name is “All Mercy” now.  God changed it!”

And her brother, “Nobody,” likely had to correct friends and neighbors and the school teacher who always treated him like a fool: “God says I’m no longer, “Nobody!”  I’m “God’s Somebody” now!”

God says that about you, too.  He says, “You’re mine.  I’ve given you my name and called you my child.  You are a sign of my mercy, you are loved, you are important to me.”

Yet, just like Hosea’s poor children, who likely had to stand up for their name change time and time and time again . . . so we must continually refuse Satan the prerogative of defining us by our past.

Instead, those names from our past, those identities are just part of our testimony now, a reminder of how God redeems, renews, and recreates, how He makes “beautiful things out of us.”

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

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