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

Giveaway!!! and A Broken Lens

First, A Giveaway!!!

I’m celebrating this Friday because we are just about to reach 150 posts on this devotional blog!  So, I thought I’d bring a gift for you to this little party of ours by hosting a giveaway.

Go ahead and get excited.  Jump around a bit if you like!

On Monday, 10/17/2011, I’ll announce the winner who will get some real goodies—the CD Beautiful Things by Gungor and your choice of either the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp or What Women Fear by Angie Smith.  I’m sure you’ll love these!

How do you win?  That’s a cinch!  You get one entry for each of these things:

  1. Become a follower of the blog by typing your email address into the blog home page.  Then post a comment to me on this page saying, “I’m following the blog!”
  2. Comment on this post or the Weekend Post on 10/15/2011 with any thought you’d like to share.
  3. Share this post on Facebook and then leave me a comment on this page telling me about it.

That’s all it takes!  If you do all three, that’s three chances to win!

If you have any questions, you can email me: heatherking@cox.net and I’ll be happy to help you out.

And now on to today’s devotional . . . .

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“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:2, NASB).

When my daughters are excited, they jump.

Ice cream!
Jump, jump, jump.

Playdate!
Jump, jump, jump.

Trip to the aquarium!
More jumping.

A blog giveaway!
Triple jumping . . . . Okay, that’s me, not them.  Just couldn’t help myself!

You’d think after years of being a mom to these jumping beans, I’d have learned to announce good news from afar.

But I haven’t.  My dentist can probably attest to how many times one of their heads has slammed into my jaw as I foolishly stood over top of them and made a thrilling announcement.

So, when I took the girls to a children’s museum for an exhibit on butterflies, I should have maintained a safe distance, walking behind them the whole way.

But I didn’t.  Instead, I held my camera in my hand and walked next to my oldest daughter who took one look at the massive monarch caterpillar entryway and . . . .

Jumped . . .

Right into my hand, knocking my camera to the concrete sidewalk.  From then on, the lens made this sickening grinding noise as it turned on or tried to focus for a shot.

My husband performed camera surgery and that helped for a while.  Yet, eventually the lens stuck in place again.  Now my camera clicks and grinds when you turn it on and then flashes red light onto the display before showing the message, “Lens error.  Camera will shut down now.”

With my camera out of focus, I’ve been wondering how often we experience brokenness in similar ways.  Something sends us hurtling to the ground—a hurt, a sickness, loss, sadness, fear, death, confusion, loneliness, conflict, fatigue—and suddenly our perspective is askew.  We see everything through a lens that is stuck and out of focus.

Certainly we lose God’s perspective often enough.

This earthly life of ours will always be accompanied by a darkened view and limited line of sight.  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:2, NASB).

It’s not until Glory that we’ll receive heavenly lenses and eternal scope.

Until then, we’ll probably still be asking: Why did that happen?  How long will this take?  What’s the point of this and the significance of that?  Is there any hope?  What is around the corner?  What will my future hold? 

But here and now, even the darkness can be enlightened at times.  We can remember that God sees beauty in the broken.

We can remember that God breathed life into dust.

In their song, Beautiful Things, the band Gungor sings:

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

It’s a reminder that the materials we give Him do not limit what God can create.  Peter tells us, “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:19). That means in any situation, we can have full confidence in our faithful Creator.  We can trust and have hope because He can make beautiful things out of dust.

We can remember that God restores life when all seems dead.

In the book of Job, we read: “There is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.  Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant” (Job 14:7-9).

So if you are feeling the weight of broken branches and fallen leaves, when you feel fruitless, abandoned, cut down to the very stump and left for dead, remember the power of hope.

Naomi Zacharias in her book The Scent of Water writes:

“The promise is that at even the scent of water, our roots, like that of a tree, will awaken and extend themselves—at the very hint of refreshment and sustenance.  Ah, the perfume of hope that breathes life into the weary and wounded” (p. 168).

You may see fruitless death, but allow hope to refocus your lens.  This will not last forever.  God promises to be with you.  He will work for your benefit and for His glory.

We can remember that even rain is a blessing.

In the book of Joel, God promised Israel restoration and renewal if they would repent and return to Him.  Following judgment and famine, they would see new growth.

But it would take rain to wash away the dry, crumpled weeds and to saturate the earth with life-giving water.

Joel tells the people to “rejoice in the Lord your God!  For the rain He sends demonstrates His faithfulness” (Joel 2:23 NLT).

Lisa Whittle in her book, {W}hole, tells us “It is the goodness of God to bring forth life from deadness . . . restoration from brokenness  . . . growth from grace-filled rain” (p. 113).

So, when we pray for the “rain, rain to go away,” we miss God’s perspective.  Instead we can refocus by praising Him for the downpour that will bring new life and the rain sent by His faithful love.

Oh, it’s not easy of course.  Our lenses are still faulty.  It’s the way we’re made.  We’re finite.  Limited.  Created without the ability to see the long-term and the eternal.

We’re broken cameras, all of us.

Let it be our prayer, though, that He be our vision, that He provide our focus, and that He guide our perspective.  It’s the only way to truly see.

The song Beautiful Things by Gungor blesses me continually!  You can view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR7VOKQ0xJY&feature=youtu.be

Or by clicking on the video below:

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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King