Today I suddenly recall the number of times God changes somebody’s name in the Bible. It happens a lot. It’s so cool. It’s as if God says, “You are no longer going to live in the past or as a victim of your past. You are no longer limited anymore by your past. You are a new person entirely.”
I’m sitting in my chair by the Weeping Cherry, sipping my routine hazelnut coffee, reading the Bible and thinking about the past and all the ways I need to mature and grow when, like lightning in my soul, I remember God changes names.
He takes the old you and gives you a new identity, one not rooted in all the past limitations or stories, but a totally new you. He often takes someone and turns their identity into the opposite of what they once were (or who others believed they were). Abram (who had no children yet) now becomes Abraham (the father of many). Sarai (who also had no children yet) becomes Sarah (a princess and mother of nations). You can read about this in Genesis 17.
But it gets better as you keep reading the Bible. Jacob becomes Israel, Simon becomes Peter, Saul becomes Paul. All now manifest the power of God in stunning, overwhelming ways.
I wonder if the new name helped them remember. I wonder if they slipped back into using their old names and had to say, “Oh, I’m sorry! That’s not actually me anymore. I have a new name I go by now. And by the way, this new name means I’m this awesome new person and chosen by God to do amazing things. So remember the new me.”
I tell my friend that I don’t want to live in the past me anymore; I want to live in the new identity God gives me. God will one day actually assign me a new name (Revelation 2:17), but right now, as a child of God, I am “crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). I have His name, really.
He changes our name. We are new people. We become the opposite of that identity that most drags us down. I like to think the new me has something to do with hope instead of despair, peace instead of anxiety, abundance instead of emptiness, and connection instead of loneliness. Is there a name that means all of those things?
I’m so glad God changes names. He determines who I am, not my past.