Names Have Been Changed to Identify the Righteous


“I love everything about her life!”

The barista’s comment startled me as I left Starbucks. I knew she was talking about me. We had just been giggling together, discussing our dogs and exchanging first names.

I almost turned around said, “No you don’t! You don’t know anything about my life!” But instead, I just smiled to myself and walked into the sunshine. I think I know what she loves about my life, it’s what she can see. I pray she can see that God has blessed me with joy and a peace beyond understanding.

It hasn’t always been this way. I used to spot a girl across the room and wish to trade her places. I used to pray each night that God would just kill me because I didn’t want to do my life anymore. In the midst of a 15 year battle with anorexia and a troubled marriage, it seemed as if my life couldn’t get any worse. I even feared that my loved ones had given up on me after pouring thousands of dollars into my treatment, only to still see a starving, depressed woman.

Looking into my heart, I hated what I saw. I perceived my identity as intrinsically linked to my long list of failures.

Maybe Jacob did, too. The Biblical character of Genesis lived up to his given name, “Deceiver”. In fact, when God asked him in chapter 32, “What is your name?” Jacob was forced to reply, “I am Deceiver.”

At that point in Jacob’s life, he believed the end was near. In mere hours, he would be face-to-face with a man who once wanted to kill him. Already, Jacob had a long list of mistakes to feel guilty for. I wonder if Jacob hated who he had become.

But God is in the business of changing identities. Over and over throughout the Bible, when God did a massive work in someone’s life, He also changed their name, giving them a new identity, a new way to refer to themselves, a new way to see themselves and a new way to present themselves to the world.

For Jacob, God told him, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have wrestled with God and with men, and you have won. That’s why your name will be Israel.”

Another definition of the name Israel is, “Prince of God”.

According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, our identity changes too, when we accept Jesus as our salvation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Isaiah 62 tells us that God changes our name to reflect the new identity that we receive when we accept the sacrifice of Jesus for us and the gift of His righteousness to us.

“The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.”

As I sank into a chair on the patio at Starbucks, the sun’s afternoon rays painted my feet a soft yellow, then shadows encroached and swept me into the early evening hours. I smiled again. I love who I am. I love the one who gave me His identity in Christ, and I dearly love the name, Jesus.

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6 thoughts on “Names Have Been Changed to Identify the Righteous

  1. Hi Abby,
    You paint a very nice picture here !! Yes, you have a new life and should be proud of it ! I know how you feel. I was in very troubled times and was then given the opportunity to start my life again, thank God. One of many wonderful things was learning to fly and getting my PPL last year. Flying for me is a dream come true and we have had some super flights to places by the sea. Sometimes it’s hard to believe (I think it’s the same for you) but we are now living a fresh life. We still have to learn from the past, but can leave it behind us now. Again I think it’s about letting go and giving God a chance to help us. He always has very good plans for us and sometimes must laugh at our plans. We must keep learning and moving forward.
    Rick Warren said “We are products of our past but we don’t have to be prisoners of it” and also :
    “Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be !”.
    How true and how exciting !
    all the very best,
    David

  2. David, I’m so thrilled to read your comments every time! Yep, you pegged me – can still hardly believe this “fresh” life. And sometimes I wonder if I can live it well.

    1. You are already living it well ! The first bridge we crossed was to help ourselves and the second bridge was to help others. There is no reason to ever go back.

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