What's In a Name?

This morning one of my blogger friends threw out a question something like this: If you have a blog, what is the name of your blog and why did you give it that name? In other words, what's behind the name of your blog?

Of course, being the interactive, friendly blogger that I am I answered the question. My blog's name is Off the Beaten Path because we believers are all off the beaten path tread by most people in this world and we could all use a little encouragement along the way. Just yesterday in James' sermon he reminded us that the Bible says, not him but the Bible says, that really in comparison to the huge numbers of souls who walk on this earth few are on the path to heaven. I don't like the odds there, but that's simply the truth. If you're on the path to heaven via Jesus, the only way to get there, then you're on a narrow trail that is indeed "off the beaten path."

But this little dialogue got me to thinking about something else. So if you'll follow me this way on yet another little rabbit trail, I'll tell you the true purpose of today's ramblings.

Names. That's what I'm thinking about. Not just names of blogs, but our names. Before you start thinking that I'm referring to the name your parents gave you when you were born, whoa, hold on. I'm referring to the name of your character. Who you really are.

This morning in my Bible reading I read about Jacob, that conniving, wrestling, sneaky-snake guy who later was renamed Israel by God Himself. You see Jacob's name meant "supplanter" or one who grabs what is not his. And he was rightly named. First he supplanted his brother Esau's birthright then his blessing. Later he would take a dose or two of his own medicine when his father-in-law Laban would supplant him of the bride he had worked so hard for, substituting homely Leah for ravishing Rachel at the last drunken minute. He would have to work an additional 7 years for the bride he had worked so hard for to begin with. Then Jacob would use some masterful animal husbandry techniques to slowly accumulate Laban's livestock for himself. Jacob's whole life, up to this point, had been one of supplanting and being supplanted, trickery upon trickery.

But when God finally got a hold of this man and wrestled this trait out of him, He renamed him Israel which means "he who strives with God" because he had wrestled with God and with men and had prevailed. I don't think that assessment means Jacob beat God. I think it means he hung in there with Him, begging for a blessing from the One whom he was wrestling before he would throw in the towel. Perhaps Jacob found out there were some things you couldn't get through trickery and conniving; some things only come from humble submission. At the top of that list would be God's favor.

And so as we take one final turn on this rambling rabbit's trail, we come to the point of the matter. What exactly is your name today? When God asked Jacob his name toward the end of their wrestling match, Jacob had to admit, yes admit, that his name was supplanter, conniver, trickster. He wasn't just stating his name as we do when we give the restaurant hostess our party number and name; he was admitting who he was, his character. And there was no running from the truth because even in that moment of wrestling with God he was trying to get something the underhanded way, by fighting it out instead of simply asking for it. I can just see him, turning beet red and breathing a sigh of concession as he admitted, "I'm Jacob. I'm a conniver."

That made me think. What character trait is indicative of my life right now? If I were in a wrestling match with God Almighty and He, the all-knowing God, were to ask me, "What is your name," what would I have to answer? Would it be Bitter? Would it be Lazy? Would it be Discontented? How about Aimless or Worldly or Selfish or Envious or Sad?

Regardless of what name I would have to give, it can be changed. That's what God does. He changes names. He changes character. Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul, Envious to Content, Aimless to Purposeful, Worldly to Godly, Lazy to Industrious, Selfish to Giving.

You can name your blog whatever you want to. I like that because I got to choose a catchy name that gave me an identity that I wanted. But you can't name your character. It names you. If you'd like to change it, you'll need to put in a name change request. Best way to do that? Wrestle it out with God.

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