WAY back in the day when Pastor and I were youth pastoring we had an intern. On the intern’s first day we all sat around and chatted, and it came out that he and I had attended the same Bible Camp in early high school. As we chatted more the intern started acting a little distant. His conversation was quick, his eyes no longer focusing. And me, the chatty one just kept talking about this Bible camp. Soon, the conversation got awkward.
“Oh man, my best friend always had guys following her around everywhere she went, even at Bible Camp.”
Intern: Yep, I think I know her and the boy who had the crush.
“Oh, and one year the kid had a friend, they just hung around WAY too much!”
Intern: Yep, I was that friend!
“Oh, no! It wasn’t you. This kid was scrawny, super annoying, he even asked me out… I of COURSE said NO!”
Intern: Yep! That was me.
“I’m serious, it wasn’t you. That guy’s name was Bob something… ” (no real names are used) Plus, this guy was pitiful. He was dirty, smelly. I think he may have even been slow.
Intern: Was it Bob SMITH??
“Oh yeah!!! It WAS Bob Smith! Man, that kid was really scuzzy, I felt bad for him. ” (Please remember, this was WAY back when… and I was not very nice, and I’d NEVER say ANYTHING like this now!!! I promise!)
Intern: I am Bob Smith!!
“I thought you were Larry!?” **I didn’t actually know his last name, so at this point I’m nervous that I was speaking of the poor boy’s close relative. However, it got worse!
Intern: I am Bob Larry Smith. I changed my name a few years ago. I go by Larry now!
Remove shoe, expose foot, insert foot into mouth… the entire foot.
No amount of backpedaling could reverse the things I’d said bad about this poor intern RIGHT-TO-HIS-FACE! I was mortified… not just of the fact that I’d said it to his face, but I was just SO mean in my words.
The intern with much grace and ease turned to my husband and said, “Sorry, Dude, I think I hit on your wife when we were kids!” HA!
This story came to my mind as I read the first chapter in our current Bible Study book for church. “The Daniel Dilemma” by Chris Hodges. The chapter speaks of how often we allow Satan to dictate our identity, our “name”. He calls us scrawny, annoying, pitiful, dirty, smelly, scuzzy. He tells us that we aren’t worthy to be around certain people. And unfortunately he does it through other people. (sometimes even Christians… oops!)
We live in a society that is searching for their identity. And it’s heartbreaking to see how many are so far from who God has called them to be. Hodges points out that the enemy wants to distract us from focusing on our relationship with God and instead focus on what others say about us. (pg10)
Jeremiah 1:5 says Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…
Many times God changed a person’s name in the Bible. Once men like Abram, Jacob, Simeon, and Saul had an encounter with God, they were changed, they were new, they had a new purpose. The author points out that “these identities were not really new; they were the ones Israel, Abraham, Peter and Paul we always supposed to have. They just hadn’t fully stepped into who God had made them to be until God marked them and called them by new names.”
Larry did not want to be Bob anymore. He was living up to the bullying he’d received from others. Bob was living what he was believing. He believed that he was too poor to rise above. He believed that all the insults, and circumstances, and ungodly words that came from people claiming to be godly were true. And Bob stopped finding his purpose in God. It wasn’t until Bob decided he no longer wanted to listen to the evil in the world dictate who he was anymore, but instead began to listen to his creator, his author, his identity maker!
Bob said good-bye to what people placed on him, and said hello to the only One who mattered. And out emerged Larry. A man who found his calling in Christ. I praise God for the calling He put on Larry’s life, although I do not know where the intern is now, but I do know that when he changed his life, his name, and his identity, he stepped right into where God wanted him.
Who are you? What is your name? Are you Depressed? Anxious? Poor? Confused? Unworthy? (The answer is NO!) You may feel this way, but your identity is SO much more. God’s got a new name for you, and with it comes a great purpose and blessing.
If you are in the St. James, MN area and you feel yourself standing at a crossroads in your life, and you’re ready for a new start, please contact me by either emailing me ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or dropping by the Crossroads Church at 721 Weston Ave. You can find out more about the church by following the Crossroads Church’s Facebook page. We have services every Sunday at 10am.
If you have been struggling with your Christian identity in a culture of compromise, I highly recommend Chris Hodges book, The Daniel Dilemma. You can order the book on Amazon.
I’m praying for you right now!