Isaiah 43:1 “But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.'”
Have you ever felt like you and life just don’t get along? I had a day last week where every single thing I touched, I dropped. All morning long. A bowl of hair gel went flying across the floor and splatted everywhere, a towel slipped out of my hand as I was swinging my arms back and forth and flew all the way to the other side of the room, and more. It seemed like everything I touched ended up on the floor. It was comical, embarrassing, and frustrating. I felt like I just couldn’t win.
Even on a less humorous side, last week I was weary. I didn’t feel at peace with a lot of big things coming up in life; I’m a senior and as graduation approaches, I have a lot of well-meaning people ask me what I want to do with my life. I had a plan, a job, an answer…but I all I felt was dread. I felt like I was wrestling with an opponent that I couldn’t see, couldn’t name, couldn’t pin-point. Something just felt “off”.
For weeks, I have been feeling this and have really been trying to think through my plans and what I want to do, but it wasn’t until those uncertainties really pressed in on me last week that I started praying about it. I wanted to know what plans God wanted me to follow, because I know He was sure about His plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11), even as I was unsure about my own plans. I knew if I asked Him, He said He would answer me, and would tell me great and mighty things that I didn’t know (Jeremiah 33:3). So I asked Him, and boy, did He give me an answer!
I went to a ladies’ retreat over the weekend, and really heard His voice there. A lady that I didn’t even know prophesied over me, telling me that in this season I needed to walk in my shoes of peace, and that I would be a person who ran for the Kingdom of God, a person whose ministry would impact many.
Not even four months before that, I had visited Bethel Church’s location in Atlanta. The speaker there asked if anyone in the room had the name “Anna”. No one responded, so she asked if anyone had “Anna” as part of their name. It took a moment for me to remember that my middle name was Susanna, because I go by my first name Callie. That night, the speaker spoke pretty much the exact same prophecy over me. I must admit, as much as I was awed about what she’d spoken (it matched what other people that knew me had told me), I was a little offended that God didn’t use my first name. He had told her that the prophecy was for someone who had Anna as a part of their name instead of that the prophecy was for someone named Callie. Why didn’t God use my first name? I know He knows my name; He knows how many hairs are on my head (Matthew 10:30).
When I connected that the two ladies had spoken the same thing over me, I felt God saying “Baby girl, I KNOW YOUR NAME. Don’t think for a moment that I have forgotten you. That night at Bethel, it wasn’t that I didn’t know your name, it was that I have names for you that you have yet to walk in. My son paid for a new identity for you, and just as there are songs I sing and dance over you (Zephaniah 3:17), there are names I speak over you that you don’t even know about yet. You may be called Callie now, but there is more for you. I have a new identity for you, and I can’t wait for you to discover and walk in it.”
Wow. Talk about a perspective shift! I went from feeling forgotten to feeling cherished. God had reminded me that the moment I had made a decision to give Him my life, my heart, and my everything, I had taken on His name. I had become the Bride of Christ. I had a new name, just like a girl takes on her husband’s name when they marry. God had names for me that I didn’t even know yet.
Isaiah 43:1 wouldn’t get out of my head this past weekend. God speaks to both Jacob’s former name, the one he had before he wrestled all night long, and to his new name Israel. God reminds him that not only did he create him–his first name–but He also formed him into what He wanted him to be–his new identity. Then God speaks these incredible words to him, “Do not be afraid,” which to me parallels to walking in shoes of peace, “for I have ransomed you.” To ransom means that someone pays a price to get another person out of where they are and into freedom. That’s what God did for us: He paid a price–His own Son–to get us out of where we were–dead in our sins–and into where God wanted us to be–restored to righteousness beside Him. The verse continues, “I have called you by name,” which jumped out at me after hearing God tell me that He has new names for me. God is calling you. God is calling you out of where you are and into His plans for you. And God is calling you by a name that He has for you, not names like “broken”, “hurt”, “addict”, “suicidal”, “depressed”, “uncertain”, or “not enough”. And what’s more, God continues, saying “You are mine”.
I love the thought of being God’s. Of living from the names He has for me instead of the ones I call myself. I love that first, He reminds us that He created us and He is forming us, and that He tells us to not be afraid because He has already paid the price to set us free. He knows our name, and He calls us. He wants us. He wants you.
As for my uncertain plans? God reminded me of the passions He’d put into my heart from an early age, and I plan to pursue them: writing, speaking, ministering–even though it doesn’t make sense. I have a job, I’m about to graduate college, and I want to only do what God wants me to do, nothing more, nothing less. If He says “Come and talk with me”, I want my heart to respond “Lord, I am coming” (Psalm 27:8). When He calls me by name, I want to respond, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10).