I like to understand the origins and meanings behind names. So from time to time, I ask people what their names mean. Some give me an elaborate explanation, while others simply are no more enlightened about their name than I am! I find the latter to be totally inexcusable because every person has got to know what her or his name means. After all, it is the label to which they respond every day…so it only makes sense to know what it means. But I believe even more seriously, it is important to know the name by which God knows us. Sadly, most of us are totally unfamiliar with the name that God knows us. Maybe this is why we struggle to hear God often times – because we don’t hear him calling us by the name we expect to be called. We typically have names prescribed for us beyond those on our driving licenses. Some of these names, others give us – others, we give to ourselves. Strange, broken, weak, poor, unfortunate, fearful, addicted, worthless, lonely…are just a few. But our Father does not know us as such.
We struggle to hear God…because we don’t hear him calling us by the name we expect to be called.
I am reminded of a man by the name of Gideon, who both by self-admittance and by popular-vote, probably would have been named the local coward of his town. One day God visits Gideon, in the middle of a cowardly act – while he threshes wheat hidden in a winepress out of his fear of the Midianites, who were oppressing his people at the time (Judges 6). What I find most interesting is how God begins His dialogue with Gideon…
“The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor“
Hmmm. Now here we have a grown man…afraid…in hiding…in paranoia…constantly watching his back for danger. I imagine that he probably almost had a heart attack when he heard the voice of The Lord in the winepress! Yet, God calls Gideon “you mighty man of valor!” I tell you what…if I was Gideon, I would have probably looked behind me to see if God was referring to someone else because I would have definitely wanted to meet this cool guy haha!
So why did God speak to Gideon this way? One thing about God is that when He refers to us, He doesn’t refer to the “us” that we see and know here and now…but the “us” He has called, qualified, and destined to be before we even were. I guarantee you that there was indeed nothing mighty or valiant about the Gideon that stood threshing his wheat in hiding….but there was great might and valor in the Gideon that God saw and destined before the foundations of the earth. Today you may see nothing great in yourself…but then again you may be looking at the wrong you.
…you may be looking at the wrong you.
Do you know…at that very moment when God reminded Gideon of who he really is before God, Gideon had the choice to either conform the Gideon known in the destiny of God or remain in his current state of a less than par “Gideon” that looked nothing like him. The truth is that when we choose to live in a manner that is outside of the destiny of God, we forfeit who we really are for a foreign identity that we ourselves create – it is simply not us. In fact, God refuses to know this “us”…so much that no matter how much we may live our lives in deviation from the true us He has called…He will not relent from calling us by the authentic name He knows us with. And get this – He will call us by that name till we recognize our names or death has us part from the false identities we have created.
God will not relent from calling you by the authentic name He knows you with.
But, Gideon was a wise man – he did not wait that long. He relented to his real identity, which was known in the destiny of God…and when he did, he destroyed the Midianites, violently delivering his people from their hands! He proved to be indeed “the mighty man of valor” that God knew! So..please allow me to ask you this…are you really living YOU? Do you recognize when God is calling because you know your name? If not…get with the program…that name by which He is calling is really your name – the real you awaits!
For the record – Gideon means destroyer. Oh how fitting!