Revelation 3:12 "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name."
We are called by it every day. We use it to sign our checks. We adhere it at the bottom of a letter or card. Our teachers identify us by it. We scribble it on our credit card receipt. It changes when we get married. Our friends whisper it when they want to share their heart with us. Our children scream it when they are scared. Our parents emphasize the middle part when they want to get our attention.
You guessed it! It's our name. Our name is significant to our being. It identifies who we are. Given to us at birth, it is the one thing that stays with us even after we die. When people hear our name they associate certain things with it. Character traits come to mind, the last conversation spoken, or the impression they made on you.
Our names also identify family lines. There were 12 tribes of Israel, each with a different name. The tribe of Benjamin, Isaachar, Rueben, Gad etc. The descendants of these tribes maintained their family lineage and acknowledged which tribe they were from. Their heritage was a big deal to them, a source of pride and ownership.
When I was in fifth grade I made a startling discovery. It was the first time I thought my life was a fraud. While cleaning out a bedroom closet I discovered an old tin. After I finally yanked off the lid, I became puzzled by the contents. Baby cards. Not just any baby cards, they were my baby cards. My mom saved them from my baby shower. Sweet sentiments were given and encouraging well wishes.
Then I noticed it. The name. What? This can't be, I thought. I thumbed through more cards. Several had my first name "Hester", but then listed a different last name. A name I had never even heard of until that moment. And who is "Irma"? My mom's name was Barbara? Why are these people calling my mom by a different name?
I marched downstairs determined to sort this mess out. Confusion settled in my mind. With tears welled up in my eyes I handed my mom the tin of cards and asked, "What is this?" My voice told her I was disturbed by what I found.
Reaching inside she pulled out the cards. As if the last eleven years of my life came to a screeching halt, she looked up at me with dismay in her eyes. "Honey, I'm sorry, I was going to wait until you were older to tell you."
She proceeded to share that when I was a baby she lived a different life. I knew my mom had been a hippie, but I didn't know to what extent. It was during this time that she changed her first and last name. For eleven years I had only known the last name "Crow", my mother's maiden name.
But, this last name did not stop with the baby cards. I soon discovered this hideous, made-up last name was also on my birth certificate!! It wasn't just a simple name like, "Johnson or Smith". Oh no, my mom opened up her herb book and concocted a last name from the herb mugwort.
This tangled mess sounds like a soap opera, I know. But, it is in fact the truth of my upbringing and discovery of "Who in the world am I?" and "What is my stinking name?"
Talk about your information overload! It seemed my life was a total lie. This news confirmed I was part of a three-ring circus.
There was no way I was about to tell any of my friends who I really was. It was shameful to me as a young girl and I feared being rejected by others. I have never told any of my high school friends about this little name secret, not until now. I still feel vulnerable as I write because some who I grew up with may actually read this.
This experience was pivotal in my life. It traumatized me and caused doubt and insecurity. The enemy used this to cause me to question my worth and value. I was disillusioned by my identity because reality was a nightmare to me. I guess I just learned to live with it although it secretly pained me to bring it up. If nobody ever found out, it was fine with me.
I couldn't change my name and I was unable to wish away my circumstances. But, thankfully God did. He changed my name and my life when I accepted Him. I was born into His family. I was called by a new name! I am now: Daughter of the King, Child of the Most High God.
This truth revolutionizes my mind and my heart. As I have matured in my faith, my identity and security has been fulfilled in Christ. I don't doubt who I am anymore. I don't question my worth and value. The difference with this new name is that I want everyone to know. I have no secret or shame in being Beloved, Chosen, Precious, and His.
The same is true for us all. In the New Testament we see that when we accept Christ, He gives us a new name and we are born into a new family: God's family. He identifies us as: Christian, Beloved, Child of the Most High God, Forgiven, Believer, Daughter of the King, Heir, Chosen, His. Because we are His, our identity is re-established in Him. While our parents pass on their physical name to us, our spiritual and most significant name in Christ redefines who we are because of whose we have become.
In the Bible we witness God change some of the names of those who had encountered Him. Abram changed to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, and Jacob to Israel. When Saul surrendered to Christ, his name changed to Paul. When God intervenes we cannot return to who we were. Lives are changed when they encounter the living God and risen Lord.
There is no need to trust in our heritage when we can trust in the hope of Christ. There is no reason to take pride in our pedigree when security comes in our position in Him. It is unnecessary to be discouraged by our legacy when we receive new life and lineage in Jesus. Our given name pales in comparison to the new name God gives us.
My friends, we are called by a new name! Rejoice!!
Consider the impact your new name/identity in Christ has in your life. If you struggle with doubt, insecurity, or your worth, remember who establishes your identity. Build on this foundation of truth.
How has your life changed as a result of your relationship with God? What difficult things in your family line do you need to work through and move past? (Thankfully I can now look at my situation and extend grace and forgiveness to my mother.)
Heart Changing Word:
Psalm 61:5 "For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name."
Psalm 119:111 "Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart."
Isaiah 56:5 "To them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off."
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.