Saturday, March 3, 2012

the importance of our names

The last couple of months have meant a lot of time spent in the book of Daniel learning lessons from the life of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There are a lot of lessons to learn from these young men and the way they chose to live in a foreign culture. But, the other day I found myself reflecting on how important it was that in Daniel 1 we read of one of the first things when they are carried off into captivity in Babylon their names are changed by the King of Babylon.

Daniel and his friends has names that spoke of the God of Israel - of Who He was. One of the first things, King Nebuchadnezzar did was change their names to reflect the gods of the Babylonians. Another sign of the attempt to completely assimilate the Israelites into the new culture surrounding them. An attempt to take away their identity as people of God (as the Israelites were).

It makes me think about how important the names other people call me and that I call myself are. I'm not talking so much about our given names, but more of the names that get used to identify ourselves based on our appearance or what we do. These names can be good and helpful. Or they can be destructive and keep us from doing what we are really able to and called to do. Either way, they have an impact on how we live and how we think of ourselves.

Sometimes I wonder if the names we have for ourselves are negative and defeating more often than we really want to admit. Or maybe we just tend to believe those ones easier, so they're the ones that stick. And they're the ones that we believe are true. It just seems like they are the ones that describe us best. And when we get caught up in them, we seem to be stuck and unable to move beyond those descriptions.

When I think about it, this seems to be Satan's specialty, If he can get us to believe the negative, defeating names about ourselves over anything else, he can keep us from doing what God has for us to do. He may use situations or other people in our lives to tell us that his names for us are what describe us over anything else. Satan works to get us to believe that our names are: failure, loser, ugly, not worth loving, screw up, unforgivable, and many others. If he can get us to believe those things, he has us stuck where he wants us - living in defeat.

But, can I tell you the truth? Those are not your names! God has very different names for us. Names that set us free to live life to the full. Names like: beautiful, lovable, forgiven, chosen, special. Those are names that we need to learn to believe. They are names that will change our lives for the better.

It's not always easy to change the names we believe we have been given in our minds. When we've been caught up in believing the negative, defeating names, trying to think of ourselves differently can seem impossible. But it's not! Well, maybe if we try to do it by our own strength it will be impossible, but we don't have to change our thinking on our own. We can ask God to help us and we can immerse ourselves in what His Word says about us. In fact, that is the way we begin to believe God's names for us. We have to immerse ourselves in His truth, so that the old lies that wallpaper our minds can be torn down and new wallpaper with God's truth can be put up in it's place.

{I've had this post sitting in my drafts for a while now. I really wasn't sure how to finish it. I'm still not sure, but I felt that it was time post it anyways, so it's up without an ending that I would have liked to have.}

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