“What is Your Name?”

“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” -Genesis 32:28 (NLT)

Consider Jacob.  Sent away from his home country by his father to earn his own way.  Ridden with guilt because he had cheated his brother Esau of his inheritance.  Constantly reminded that he was a cheat, a manipulator and a surplanter.  He worked for 14 years to earn the right to marry each of his wives and another six to earn his flocks from a crooked father-in-law.  Chased down by Laban for the return of his daughters and live stock that Jacob had already labored to claim.  And now that he was on his way back home, he is waiting for Esau to intercept him and his entourage, potentially to be killed at the hands of the vengeful brother.

Then on the night before Esau’s army is to arrive, Jacob encounters a Man who appears to be the preincarnate Christ.   Jacob engages in an all night wrestling match with Him, saying just before dawn, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  For his stubborness (and apparent wrestling skills) Jacob gets a dislocated hip socket and a permanent limp.  But, he also got more than the blessing he so passionately desired (which indeed he already had).  He got a new name!  He got a new identity!

It completely does not matter what or who anyone (even our parents at our birth or our most beloved friends and family) says we are.  Our past cannot dictate who and what we are.  Our life’s experiences good and bad, successes or failures need not identify us.  Even our hopes, ambitions and best laid plans for the future or our ability or inability to achieve them cannot effectively make up who I am.  Not even the man we see looking back at us in mirror each morning has a full understanding of who we truly are.  My identity and my purpose…my true name is known only to the One who made me.  

The God who says,  “For I know the plans I have for you.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11), also says,  “In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29:12-14)  When we find Him, we may also find the one He says we are.  We will hear Him call us by our true name.


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