Have you ever done something that earned you a nickname? Maybe something you did that wasn’t so smart? Or maybe there is a nickname from your High School years that has stuck with you? For Halloween one year my daughters dressed up in their Little House on the Prairie costumes. When a friend saw them at our church’s Trunks of Treat they decided to call Rebekah “Half Pint,” which was the nickname that Laura in the book was called. Now every time he sees her he greets her with, “Hello Half Pint!” Because of that one Halloween, she now has a label.
Do you feel like you have been labeled by one single act? Or maybe it was by two or three incidences but that is not how you want to be remembered. But it seems like the harder you try to shake that label the stickier it gets. Oftentimes we find ourselves labeled, and whether we earned it or not, we want to shake that label off so that we can wear a new name. Have you been there? I know I have. I want my actions and words to truly display what is in my heart, but sometimes it is so hard to overcome others thoughts and opinions towards you.
As I was studying this week I came across the story of Jacob. Jacob’s story is near and dear to my heart – so much so that we have a son named Jacob. I am currently going through Angie Smith’s study called Seamless. It focuses on the fact that the Bible is one Seamless story that is woven together to point us to the saving grace of Jesus. This past week I have been studying the Patriarchs of our spiritual family. God was in the name changing business back then. He saw their potential and their gifts and called them out and claimed who they really are to be. He wanted their identity to be in who he created them to be.
In Genesis 32:24-32 we come to Jacob’s identity defining moment. Take time to read it now. There are a couple things that we can learn from Jacob’s pursue of a new identity.
Jacob was alone.
Jacob didn’t seek to prove to Esau that he had changed. He didn’t gather up all his wives and friends and have a pow wow to build him us and explain who he really was. He sent everyone away and talked with the One who could actually change his name and help him become that person. Who are you trying to get your identity from? Do you care more about what others think or about what God thinks?
Jacob was determined.
He was not going to back down. I think he would have wrestled with God until he passed out from exhaustion. Stopping and not getting what he wanted was not an option. He was not going to leave until he got what he had set out to do. Is your name change, your identity, worth fighting for until you get it? Are you willing to put in the work, the hard, painful, life changing work to accomplish it?
Jacob was not shy in asking for what he wanted. He told God, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Have you asked God to help you become who He created you to be? Have you settled or are you determined to be the best you that you can be? Are you specific in your prayers? Have you stopped and listened to hear what God says in return? Do you know what name He has replaced yours with?
Jacob was humble.
When asked what his name was, he did not hesitate or make excuses. When asked what his name is he simply stated “Jacob.” He didn’t try to excuse his behavior or give reasons on why he was called Jacob. How many times to we use the little word “but.” But if you really knew what I was having to deal with, it would all make sense. But if you only knew my family you would understand why I am the way that I am. We forget that God offers grace to the humble, not to the ones who make excuses. How much easier would it be if we just say, yep this is me. I am not always proud of it, but I need a savior and I know God can make me who I need to be.
Jacob accepted it and believed it.
Jacob was changed that day. He believed that God had given him what he had asked for and therefore he stopped wrestling with God. Do you believe that you can change? Are you walking in victory or do you act as if you are still defeated or still battling?
Jacob had a physical symptom that helped him remember this encounter with God. He also built an altar to help him lock this moment in his memory forever. When you have a revelation of who God says you are, write it down. Make it visible so that you can be constantly reminded of the truth of how God sees you. Never forget what God has done in your life.
Do you believe that God is able to change you? Are you willing to let go of the labels that have become something that you feel you must wear, maybe even wear proudly? Or maybe you are ashamed of the person you have become and have just settled and decided to hid in the corner. Or maybe you feel like you are too far gone to be changed and have just given up all together.
No matter where you are in life, God has a name for you. A life giving, joyful and hope filled name. Take some time this week to ask God to show you what names you have allowed to define who you are. Then ask Him to show you what names He calls you and wants you to claim for yourself.