Saturday, October 11, 2008

What's in a Name?

Quite a lot, I'm learning. Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego. Perhaps you know the story in Daniel. The 3 of them thrown into the fiery furnace only to be rescued by God. I don't usually think of those names only one at a time either - they all go together - those names just flow; I don't separate them. Kind of like the 3 musketeers or something.

In those days, names weren't just what people went by, they were a person's very identity. Can you, without looking it up, remember what their original names were? Did you even know that they had other names? I didn't remember that and I certainly couldn't have told you what they were - until today. Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, taken captive along with the rest of the Israelites, were the names the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, gave to them and they each had meaning identifying them with the gods of the Babylonians. Their Hebrew names (and meanings), however, given them at birth were (in the same order), Hananiah (Yah has been gracious), Mishael (Who is what God is) and Azariah (Yah has helped). Nebuchadnezzar wanted them to completely forget who they were and identify themselves completely with their new culture. Can you imagine how insulting and demeaning it must have been for these true young Israelites to be called by such idolatrous names?

Let's bring this to present day. As Beth Moore said in today's study, "In our culture, a name's sound or sentimental value is a far bigger priority than its meaning." Many don't even know what their name means. We often get our identity, however, based on what other people have told us we are. Hopefully that's been a good thing, something life-giving. Unfortunately for many that's not their story. Beth asked a question "Has the world (or worse yet, a loved one) ever tried to give you a bad name or a bad identity?" "Did you fall for it?" "Are you still falling for it?"

Over the years, I came to believe a big part of my identity was "Unable". That there were others far better able at (fill in the blank) than I was. This led me to not even bother trying and I settled for a life of mediocrity. No more. Thankfully God has been revealing a completely different identity - one that's in Him. God says to and of me "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Also, "it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." (Phil 2:13)

How about you? Whose identity are you going to take? One of this world fathered by the father of lies or the one, true God, the Father of life? Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. From now on, I'm going to try to remember them for who they truly were - who God meant and proved them to be. I don't want to remember them just by their Babylonian names any more than I'd want myself to be remembered simply by my life outside of Christ.

By the way, my first name means "dark". My middle name, Ann, I just found out, means gracious, merciful. While I like the sound of my first name, I've never much cared for its meaning. And I never even thought to look up the meaning of my middle name 'cause I never liked it. I thought it was boring; Now I think I was wrong. Now, it seems like I have my whole testimony and a constant reminder of what God's done in my life wrapped up into my two names - grace and mercy followed the darkness. Indeed it did. Praise His Name!

Be blessed.


De Anna Morris said...

Just catching up on your's great. Sorry your dog was sick but thanks for sharing the pumpkin patch pics...sounds like joy is back.

For this particular post, I really appreciate you sharing about names and how others try to give us names we do not actually need to possess. Growing up, I vividly remember being told "Shame on you!" when I had misbehaved or done something that was not pleasing to the adults in my life. But most often, what I had or had not done was not explained to me so I had no idea why "Shame was on me". But it latched on and to this day, when I feel someone I love is not pleased with me in some way, this same familiar feeling envelopes me and causes me to feel insecure and less than what God says about me.

After reading your post, I did a name meaning search to find out what my name means...and to my delight it means "Divine". How God is that? Even though the one who named me unknowingly called me shame, my real identity is one that is God given.

Thanks again for your post. I enjoy reading it!

calista said...

I enjoyed this post. Are you by any chance doing the "Daniel" Bible Study?

Have you ever read my post about my little one asking what a hat rack was? The other one said, you know, like Shadrack and Meshack.....I almost quit breathing, I was trying so hard not to snort out loud!