Birth name or nickname, names give us significance. They set us apart from others, sometimes with hilarious results!
At home in Ireland, my name, Aoife (pronounced EE-fah), is a fairly common one. Abroad, however, it’s positively exotic. Visiting Starbucks in London became an adventure. Every time I ordered my tall latte the barista would pick up the cup, pen in hand and ask the question:
“What’s your name?”
At first, I always took the time to spell it out correctly.
One barista wrote it on the cup, looked at her colleague and laughed, “good luck with this one!”
This got boring veeeeeeery quickly. I changed tactics.
Internationally recognised, easily spelt. They never got it wrong. Not once. No problem, right? Eva is a wonderful name. It’s even an anglicised version of my name. But…
It’s not my name.
Sometimes we pick up names that don’t quite fit properly. It might be an awkward childhood nickname that we grow out of. Or perhaps a label that got stuck on.
As I started my new adventure of raising prayer and financial support I was amazed how names I thought I’d dealt with came back to haunt me. Failure. “Nothing you’ve tried in the past has succeeded, why do you think this will work?” Reject. “People aren’t interested in supporting you, you may as well give up now.” Unloved. “God doesn’t care about you, neither does anyone else.” It’s easy to get stuck listening to those records on repeat and start believing them.
But a couple of friends sent me a scripture verse last week that got my attention.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come” Isaiah 60:1
How can you rise when you feel pinned down by failure and rejection? I kept reading and tripped over Isaiah 62:2-4,
“You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow…
No longer will they call you Deserted…
But you will be called Hephzibah, [my delight is in her]… for the Lord will take delight in you”.
Perhaps the key to rising and shining is embracing the new name the Lord gives you.
God is in the business of giving new names: Abram the father became Abraham the father of nations; Jacob the deceiver became Israel the prince; and Saul, persecutor of God’s people, became Paul, apostle and teacher. Their new names opened up a new way to live up to everything that God called them to be.
On mornings when I simply do not want to get up I hear myself name-calling, “Can’t get out of bed again? Failure!” Before, I would strive for the rest of the day until I could do enough to prove myself wrong. Now, however, I catch myself name-calling and I stop.
I raise my hands to the One who calls me “delightful” and “sought after”. There I find the grace to arise and shine, remembering that the glory of the Lord rises upon me.
I am called by a new name.
I am no longer “failure”.
I am “the one God delights in”.