Last week, I made my first cent from my blog. Let me give you a little backstory: Continue reading “My First Penny!”
Okay, so if you’ve been following my blog for the past couple of months you may notice a theme keep popping up: being called by name. In part 1 of this mini-series, I talked about being called, and in part 2, about names. Well, here we are in part 3 and I’m still caught up on this idea that names are really important.
I went to Passion Conference for the first three days of this new year and one of the things that really struck me was how many people attended. We filled three huge arenas across the Southeast with students, and had more people streaming the conference online. The magnitude of people coming together in agreement to worship with one heart and one mind was staggering. I went with my best friend and her church, which meant I only knew two people out of all those thousands of students. Getting lost would have been so easy! The crowds could get chaotic what with all the going through security, finding seats for everyone, and just trying to stick together. The amount of groups trying to stay together naturally created hustle and bustle that comes along with crowds of that size.
Our group would always plan to stick together through the lines of people, but getting separated from the group would happen naturally if you didn’t purpose to keep an eye on the group leader. Even if you got lost, there was still hope. We always sat in the same area together, so if you lost sight of the leader along the way, you knew to go to the place where you were sure to meet with him again. You could listen for the people in your group to call your name as they searched for you. Whether you intentionally got separated from the group to go off and look at what people were selling at the conference, or unintentionally lost sight of the leader, there was hope that you would be found again.
But with the hope came responsibility. If you became lost, it now depended on you to listen for the voice of your leader calling your name, or to go to the place where you would sit and wait for him to join you.
And right there, in the middle of the chaos and joy of the Passion Conference, it struck me how that parallels to our spiritual life. We are going through life following God, hopefully with other people alongside us, in the confidence that soon we will reach Heaven, a place filled with countless people who are all worshipping God. Sometimes along the way, we get our eyes off of our leader; sometimes we get distracted by what the world is selling us and walk away, but sometimes somebody just bumps into us and we lose sight of Him. Getting our eyes back on God isn’t a hopeless endeavor. We just have to listen for Him calling our name, and sometimes that means going and sitting in the place where He has promised to meet us.
But how often do we get distracted by the things of the world and then think there is no hope for us? How often do we get our eyes off our Father when someone else bumps into us and our focus shifts to them? We blame and fight with others and let our focus go to those who have “bumped into our happy”, as Lysa TerKerust puts it, and then we are so focused on their offense we lose sight of where God was leading us. We may even follow after voices calling names at us, thinking that responding to whatever names we hear will lead us back to the One Who Named Us.
Have you lost sight of God and been responding to the first names you hear? Worthless, unqualified, unloved, rejected, lost, hopeless? That’s not your name! If you respond to and follow the wrong names you’ll go to the wrong place. God is calling you to Himself and He’s calling out to you by name (Is. 43:1)
If you’ve lost sight of God and can’t hear Him calling your name, you can still go to the place where He’s promised to meet you. Get away from the crowds and go to your secret place (Ps. 91:1; 81:7). Make a point to get away from the crowd and chaos and go to meet with God.
He hasn’t left you. If circumstances, people, or things have gotten in the way and you can’t hear God calling your name anymore, there is still hope. Like I said earlier though, that hope comes with responsibility. You’ve got to seek God out, but rest assured, God promises that when you seek Him, you will find Him, when you seek Him with all your heart (Jer. 29:13). He’s not hiding from you!
Isaiah 45:3, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hidden riches of the secret place, that you may know that I, the Lord, who calls you by your name, am the God of Israel.”
One thing I neglected to mention in the previous “Called by Name” post is the wordage at the end of Isaiah 43:1, where the Lord declares “I have called you by name; you are mine.”, is that the word used for “mine” is “Alpha”, the first letter of the Greek alphabet. The only other place this is used in the Bible is a couple of times in the book of Revelation, where God is referred to as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
So when God calls you by name, He is calling you by His name since you are His. He’s not calling you by the name of “slave”, “failure”, “depressed”, “guilty”, “ashamed”, or any of those labels we ourselves claim. No, when you put your trust and faith in Him, you become His child and the bride of Christ. So when He calls you by name, it’s the very first name that existed in the universe. It’s the name that’s been around before you were born, the eternal, saving, conquering name of Jesus. Alpha and Omega. First and the last. Beginning and the end. Enduring through all generations. I AM in us.
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).