See Part 1 here.)
I never will forget the day my boss changed my name.
It was my first week on the job and I was filling out the info for a business card. Getting a business card - man, what a big deal that was for me! I was stoked. So I filled out the card, "Donnie Manis," and took it to his desk.
And he brought it right back to me.
He shared that my name was a little informal for the workplace. The card would read "Don Manis." And since that day, almost 27 years ago, I have been Don.
Donnie to my good friends. Don to my business associates. Bubba (and later, sometimes, "Bubs" for short) to my sisters and their children. Names - different names for different roles. And each one of them speaks to how I am seen by the one using it.
Yes, the name reflects how we are seen. And that is why name changes in the Bible are so significant.
The forefather we know as Abraham was named Abram at birth. Abram means "exalted father," which probably started to seem ironic as he aged without children. But God's vision for him was even bigger, so he changed his name to Abraham - "father of many." So many they would outnumber the stars! That is how God saw him, and of course, that is what he became.
A conniving youth named Jacob ("supplanter" or "deceiver") grew up always looking for ways to exalt himself. But after wrestling with God and learning his weakness, his name was changed to Israel - "he who prevails with God." God now saw him as one who would carry out the purpose for which he was intended, rather than his own selfish desires.
In maybe the most significant name change of Scripture, Jesus met a young man called Simon and immediately gave him a new name, Peter. The name "Peter" meant "rock" and so Jesus was giving giving him the name to reflect that he was to be a completely new person. Instead of the wishy-washy personality of Simon (to which he relapsed often during Jesus' ministry), through the power of knowing Jesus he would become a rock of leadership in the church.
And then of course there was the persecutor and murderer of Jesus-followers who went by the name Saul. But after encountering the living Messiah Jesus, his name was changed to Paul, signifying a new beginning.
And so I ask you the question that was asked of me Sunday morning: what's your name?
Are you still living an old story, one wracked with misery and frustration? It has a name, and until you break free, it is your name. Insecure? Doubter? Hoarder? Pleasure Addict? There are so many names.
Or do you have a new name, one given to you by God? One that reflects all he intended for you to be. A name that is written in heaven and reflects the fact that you belong to your Creator and will live your life for his glory.
Abraham. Israel. Peter. Paul……and _________.
How will you fill in the blank?