The Great Name Changer

I am may things other than a single woman. Lover of God, lover of people, musician by trade, traveler of the world, teacher, friend, avid reader, overcomer of a seven year chronic disease,  lover of nature, worshipper. But “single” is often what I label myself. I’m writing a book abut it, for heaven’s sake. Sometimes that translates in my mind as “rejected.”

I keep thinking about Jacob, whose name means “Supplanter.” In other words “One who wants to be what he is not.”

Not surprisingly, Jacob lived up to his name. He came out of the womb grasping his twin brother Esau’s heal. It seems that even in the first seconds of his life, Jacob wanted to be the firstborn.  In his mind, he was supposed to be firstborn. He worked the rest of his life to “trick” fate, from coercing his brother to trade his inheritance for red stew, to sticking some fur on his arm to get the birthright from his dad.

My trials look different than Jacob’s. Jacob rehearsed over and over in his head the fact that if he had been born seconds earlier, he would have all that he wanted. I go over and over in my head that if I had never been bit by that Lyme ridden tick, if the doctors hadn’t misdiagnosed my disease over and over again, I wouldn’t have wasted all those year of my life. If I wasn’t tortured by the insomnia I have as a result of the lyme disease infecting my brain, I would have all that I want.  If God just gave me a husband that adores me, I would have all that I want. If I had a family that loved the Lord, I would have all that I want. If my relationships didn’t fail and I was never rejected, I would have all that I want. I too have become “One who wants to be what she is not.”

No matter how hard I try, no matter if I say the right words or do the right things or take enough sleep meds or flirt enough or go on enough dates or even “let go” like all my married friends tell me to do, I can’t control God.

I mourn when I think about how I’ve done this. This is the God that I love. This is my Jesus, the one who has tenderly journeyed with me and been faithful to me every second of my life. The one who bled and died so He could be near me while I can’t sleep at night, while I ache for a husband.

And now, in my pain, I have reduced Him to a genie in a bottle who will grant me my wishes if I rub the right way.  Forgive me Lord, forgive me.

In Genesis 32, we see Jacob come to a place called Jabbok, which means “Empty and Alone.” Here, in this place of aching, of not understanding his circumstances, he wrestles with God.

I want to wrestle with God like Jacob did. To ask Him the hard questions that don’t make any sense. To come to Him as lovers might come together, quarreling so that ultimately they will understand each other more. Not for the sake of being right, but for the sake of intimacy. When I wrestle Him,  He will shatter the boxes I have forced him into like a contortionist street performer. He will transform the way that I see Him, and thus He will transform the way I see myself.

When Jacob and God had wrestled with each other all night, Jacob said “I won’t leave until you bless me.”God could have offered riches, fame, wives, many things. But instead, he offered Jacob a new name. Jacob took up the offer gladly. After being called “the one who wants to be someone else”  every day of his life, he didn’t want to live in that identity any more. He wanted a new identity. God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel.” Israel means “One who wrestles with God.”

He is no longer the Supplanter. He is the One Who Has Met With God.

Even if it is difficult, I want to meet with God like this.  I want my new name, my new identity. When I wrestle Him,He will tell me to ask the hard questions.  He might not give me the answers I want. He might not give me any answers.

But it is His choice. He is God.

In the end I know that I want a God that is free. Not a God that beckons when I pray as if the prayers are like spells I can cast on my life by saying the right words. Not a God that I give my offerings to and He answers my plea like the million trinket gods on streets corners around the world. But a God who is bigger than me, stronger than me, who comes down a ladder to wrestle so that we can be close.

And in my wrestling, I may walk away with a limp like Jacob did. But it is better than pushing Him away.

For in my wrestling I will know the God who opens His heart and all things tender and and all things passionate and all things beautiful flow from Him like water.   We will be touching, and sometimes it will hurt,  but I will be changed. I will not know the answers to all my questions, but I will have seen the face of God. And I will see love in His eyes.

Maybe like Jacob, even my name will be changed. I will no longer be called “single” or “rejected.” Because I will have seen His eyes and I will know the truth…

I will be named Beloved.

What names do you give yourself? Divorced, abandoned, sick, widowed, fatherless, failure?

Not any more. Wrestle with your God and know the truth.

Your name is Beloved.

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