Allow me to share a brief snippet of a message that I had the privilege of sharing multiple times with several groups of people in 2010. God has really blown me away at how He's used this story to reach so many. I pray it blesses you as well...
My name hasn't always been Leah. It used to be Julie. Yep. Hang with me for just a minute here. As a matter of fact, I went by the name Julie...for a WHOLE DAY, in kindergarten. Yes I did! Now, I guess this needs a little explanation.
When I was a little girl, my parents shared with me that they almost named me Julie Diane instead of the name they ended up giving me at birth...Leah Kristen. I was simply devastated to learn that I almost had the most glamorous name my little ears had ever heard at that time...Julie Diane. Instead...I was Leah Kristen. Boooorrrring. I just didn't like my name...couldn't stand it at that time actually. Then...one fine Kindergarten day, we had a new girl introduced to the class. Throughout the day, we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to her, and when we were all alone in the "puppet center" together, I shared my name with her...Julie Diane! I sure did. I lied right then and there, and I actually got away with it - for the rest of the day! The charade ended, however, when the teacher took role the next morning, and Julie Diane didn't exist.
Did you know that many years ago, in the land of Canann - the Promised Land - in the time of the Judges, there was another person that called himself by a different name? To set the stage a bit, Joshua had just led God's people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. And...like in the past...God's people chose to disobey Him again. When obedient, God gave them favor. When they disobeyed, God's hand of favor was lifted. If you look in Chapter 6 of the book of Judges, we get to know a bit more about Gideon, a great hero of the faith. God's chosen people, the Israelites, had just beeen ravaged by the Midianites. The Israelites, once again, cried to God for mercy, and God was once again about to pour out mercy on them. He even had His battle leader already hand-picked. But, this was not just any battle leader...this was Gideon, a simple wheat thresher. What's fascinating to me about this story comes in the following passage from Judges, chapter 6, verses 12 thru 16:
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon (the simple wheat thresher), he said, "The Lord is with you, MIGHTY WARRIOR."
"But sir," Gideon replied, "if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."
The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"
"But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."
The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."
God saw Gideon as He was making Him - into a mighty warrier. You see, in the very next chapter, God uses Gideon to totally defeat the Midianites. Gideon had a different name for himself - weak, the least, a simple wheat thresher. But God turned Gideon's name of weakness into strength.
What name has God given you that you have yet to discover or take hold of? What name have you placed upon yourself that has crippled you? Are you pretending - like "Julie Diane" did that day many years ago? Are you living below the name that God has called you? Or - are you choosing to walk by faith with your new name?
For me, one of my names used to be "Abandoned". I took on that name when my parents separated when I was eleven-years-old and even later when my husband left our marriage of over ten years. That was my name. Until God...
God revealed some of His names for me...Loved, Chosen, Princess, and even Beautiful. And...He reminded me in Deuteronomy 31:6 and again in Hebrews 13:4 that He will NEVER leave or forsake me. My name could no longer be Abandoned.
I now love the name my parents gave me at birth, and I love the names God has given me. Those are the names I go by now. And you? What is your name?