Names & Identity

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Everything has a name…from the insects on the ground to the planets in orbit around our sun, names are the titles that we give people, places, things, and ideas to represent and remember them by. Naming was one of mankind’s first assignments as Adam was told by God to name every living creature in the Garden of Eden. I believe that this is more significant than we initially realize, but first lets talk about the power of names.

I’ve struggled with fear all my life. Over and over I would wake up shaking as nightmares invaded my sleep and I wished that my parents, sleeping in the room across from me, would wake up and turn on the lights. Fear made me believe that I was weak and defenseless…a victim of the overwhelming demonic forces. I didn’t realize till years later that my fear was the result of my distrust in God and in my own identity. Only a few months ago had I finally discovered a piece of my identity that would begin to squash the fear that had taken root in me….that discovery was my name, Riley.

Names to me had only been titles given to us by our parents, with little to no meaning behind them. For some I think that may be true, as satan will stop at nothing to keep us from discovering our true identity. However, if you feel this speaks to you…take heart, our earthly names are not our eternal names or “heavenly” names that God himself has given us. Until we receive those names we must cling to what he has already called us, such as his children, loved, chosen, righteous, friend, saint, etc. With that aside, it is my experience and what God has recently revealed to me that has made me see that our earthly names are generally not just empty titles.

My name means valiant. This revelation shook me greatly, since I had adopted the name “Fearful” all my life, I had never guessed that the opposite may be true. Satan can’t rob us of our identity but he can get us to believe we are something else. One way he does this is by deceiving us into thinking our strengths are actually our weaknesses. God had called me courageous…satan had deceived me into believing I was fearful. Discovering who God called me to be opened my eyes to the years of lies I had let into my heart. Amidst all the fear in my life I suddenly remembered the many moments in class or outside in which I would day-dream about being courageous. I still do that today.

Since my eye-opening moment I have researched a great many names and have seen a huge correlation between names and personalities, as well as a person’s strengths that they may or may not be aware of. If you are not convinced research your name or someone you know and see what you think, better yet, turn to the Bible and read the stories in which earthly names took on a huge importance. For example, the story of Jacob (Israel), Abram (Abraham), or Saul (Paul). These stories and many more show that our earthly names hold power, so much so that God renamed Jacob, Abram, and Saul so that their names would speak to their true identity and destiny in Him. When God gives you a title you know that it is a revelation of who you are and who he created you to be. It is a title that will never be blotted out….just as God’s Word remains to this day, so your identity in Him remains forever. When God speaks it is so…in other words, if God calls you courageous..you better believe it!

I come from the town of Marion, Ohio. It started out as industrious and promising but once the major industries closed Marion began to sink into hopelessness. Drugs and alcohol can be seen everywhere, the outcome of seemingly irreversible poverty and pain. Again I am amazed at the power of a name. Marion means rebellious. We have more churches than most counties and yet crime and drugs are still ever-present. This place wasn’t always called Marion…it was once called Jacob’s Well. Satan has again deceived people into believing lies as Marion’s true identity and strength as a place of refreshing is now a place to avoid. God’s name for Marion still remains…in fact, there is a historical sign with the name Jacob’s Well engraved on it still standing in Marion..it has just been forgotten, not rewritten.

There is much more that can be said for names and their power in our lives. But I think the last thing I will mention today is that the reason names and, as I have said before, words hold so much power is because our God’s words hold so much power. That is why he told Adam to name creation, not only did God give us authority to name but the very act of naming creation put it under our authority. God called us to rule and subdue the Earth and began by telling Adam to name things? Yes. And that is why what we say is important, what we name is meaningful, and what we pray is heard by our Father in Heaven.

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