When I was like, seven, I renamed myself. For whatever reason, I got a bee up my bonnet and decided that "Chelsea" was a much better name than "Rachel".
I wrote "Chelsea Smyth" on all of my school papers, would correct my teachers and my family and friends, and called myself "Chelsea" in that epic inner-monologue that a seven year old has.
Don't ask me why. I just decided that I wasn't "Rachel" anymore.
This nonsense lasted about two weeks, and I'm not really sure why it stopped. But I'm pretty sure it was my parents. Frustrated that I was calling myself a false name (and also probably frustrated by my stubborn and eccentric behavior), they probably sat me down and said something like this:
"Rachel. Your name is R-A-C-H-E-L. That's the name we gave you, that's who you are."
The name "Rachel" means Little Lamb of God. Do you know what "Chelsea" means? Chalky Wharf.
She Reads Truth has been going through the book of Ruth for the past two weeks...and I love Ruth like butter loves a biscuit. It's been SO GOOD, ya'll. If you haven't read Ruth lately, get thee to SRT.
Anyways. In the beginning of the book, Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi renames herself "Mara". "Mara" means bitter, which is a huge contrast to "Naomi", which means sweet or pleasant.
Ruth 1:19-21 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?”. She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
Naomi had just endured the loss of her husband and her two sons in a foreign land, and she's journeying back to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law, Ruth, in tow. Yeah, she's bitter. She's angry and devastated. She has no provider, no protector.
She allows her circumstances to define her.
If you haven't read the book of Ruth, I shall insert a *spoiler alert* here. Go read it. Seriously. It's four chapters. It'll take you 20 minutes. I'll wait.
God sees Naomi. He hears her. And then He blesses her more than she could have imagined. By the end of the book, she has a wonderful new son and a grandson and a daughter who everyone says is better than seven sons (v. 15). Do you think she asked people to call her "bitter" anymore?
Not a chance.
I can imagine the twinkle coming back to her eyes, the laugh lines getting deeper, her age-spotted hands eager to tickle her precious new grandson. Naomi's life is sweet.
I think, in a way, God was sitting her down and saying...
"Naomi. Your name is N-A-O-M-I. That's the name I gave you, that's who you are."
God is a good dad, and He doesn't want His children assuming an identity that isn't theirs. When we allow ourselves to be renamed by our circumstances, He wants us to quit actin'-a-fool and remember who HE SAYS we are, what names HE HAS given us.
What name is He trying to remind you of today, friend?
Your name is Redeemed. Your name is Precious. Your name is Hopeful. Your name is Significant. Your name is Joy.
What "names" are you claiming today?
Under Grace, Rachel