With tack-sharp clarity I recall the day I was handed the keys to my family's 1978 Chevy Impala station wagon. Turd brown. It was there and then, as I stomped on the accelerator, that I began to road test a new strategy for coping with personal pain. I was determined to escape it. Home life, while not violent, was difficult, and by the vulnerable age of sixteen I had already come to think of myself in some contemptible ways. Beneath the veneer of good grades and exemplary behavior I wrestled with how I was going to make it through life being stupid and such a disappointment. I thought that maybe by leaving the place of pain, I could start anew. But as anyone who has tried rising above their past knows, it doesn't work that way. The names and pains we try to escape from our youth follow us into adulthood where, by the sheer bullying of our tender heart, we surrender our innocence and embrace our identity as, in some significant way "broken". Using every resource available, we may try to run or hide from the childhood labels, but they always catch us, and inevitably brand us with the names we fear most. If we don't mature in our cooperation with God and embrace the fullness of His salvation, our tightly held childhood strategies will actually forbid our full resurrection into the sons the creation is waiting for us to become. It begins with believing that we are not what we appear to be.
We are not what we appear to be.
There is a way things work. By God's design, the person who carries authority over a thing also holds the power to name it. We see Adam exercise his authority when he names the animals. He then names the woman. Taking it a step further, a transfer in ownership includes the right to change a name, as when a child is adopted, a pet is brought home, a company is bought out, or a single woman becomes a wife.
And so it begs the question, "To whom do you belong?"
God renames what He reclaims.
It's a tragic reality that many believers never shed and grow beyond their old and broken identities when this is precisely the point of Jesus mission. You have a new Father and He alone reserves the right to tell you who you are. Your calling, joy, loved ones, and your very mission in life await the shedding of your old identity and receiving a revelation of your true name. It was the same for Adam. And Abram. And Sarai. And Jacob. And Saul. And the disciples. It has, in fact, been the critical turning point for every member of my band of brothers. It is a part of our birthright as sons to have the Father rescue us from our past and give us a new future. There is a new name for every son of God.
“I’ll go ahead of you, clearing and paving the road. I’ll break down bronze city gates, smash padlocks, kick down barred entrances. I’ll lead you to buried treasures, secret caches of valuables— Confirmations that it is, in fact, I, GOD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. -Isaiah 45:2,3 MES
"The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow." -Isaiah 62:2
"To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." - Rev 2:17
"Behold, I make all things new." - Rev 21:5
Remember that the prodigal son, in his rebellious immaturity, packed up his turd brown Chevy Impala station wagon and went looking for his life and identity by running away, but found it only by coming back home. Watch Paul make the link between immaturity and identity. What are we able to see more clearly as we mature?
"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
-1 Cor 13 :11,12
To mature is to stop running away from the old you and begin running toward the true you. It can be a scary thing to ask God the question, "What do you think of me?" It's the same desperate position the prodigal son found himself in. But he had to find out where he stood, so he headed back home.
What do you think the prodigal son feared? Aren't your fears the same? (read it again in Luke 15:11)
What is the Father inviting you to believe through this story?
Is it time to head home yet?
Father continue to reveal to me who I truly am. Help me push past the names I have embraced and see what is true. I now renounce every untrue name, title and identity that I have embraced, both spoken and unspoken, either by others or by myself . I now break agreement with the names ___________ (stupid, disappointment, destroyer, etc... name them, every one that comes to mind and heart.) Forgive me for believing and then making destructive agreements with the Accuser and his accusations. I was wrong. And now I have to know, "What do you see when you see me?" Don't withhold. I choose to trust that you have chosen me. I choose to trust that your heart and intentions for me are only good. I choose to believe that you are at work and I want to participate with you in this work. Like you, I desire truth in the innermost parts. I want you to free me from my past and give me a new future. You have my permission to speak the truth over me, even if it seems too good to be true.