by Leah Stirewalt
If you’ve ever attended an event I’ve spoken at, you may have heard this little story of mine before. It’s a favorite one for me to tell, because God has taught me so much through it, and it recently popped back up again. So, allow me to share this little nugget with you.
I have a little secret about my name. You see…it hasn’t always been Leah. Granted that’s the name on my birth certificate, but I have to confess that my name actually used to be Julie. As a matter of fact, I went by Julie. For a whole day. In Kindergarten, that is.
Now, let me explain for just a minute. For some reason, when I was a little girl, my parents shared with me that they almost named me Julie Diane instead of the name they ended up giving me at birth…Leah Kristen. I was just devastated to learn that I almost had been given the most beautiful, most enchanting name my little ears had ever heard up to that time…Julie Diane. Instead…I was Leah Kristen. Booorrrring.
As you can tell, I really didn’t like my name. However, one very memorable Kindergarten day, we had a new girl introduced to the class. Throughout the day, our teacher gave us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to her, and when this young gal and I we were alone in the “puppet center” together, I took a moment to introduce myself to her and – of course – shared my name with her…Julie. Diane. I sure did. I lied right then and there, and I got away with it. Well, for the rest of that day, that is. You see, the charade ended the next morning when the teacher took role, and “Julie Diane” didn’t exist.
You know, the name my parents chose for me was so important to them that, when I was born, they felt like I wasn’t supposed to be “Julie Diane”, hence they gave me a new name…the name on my birth certificate…Leah Kristen.
Many years ago, in the land of Canaan – the Promised Land – in the time of the Judges, there was another person that called himself by a different name. To set the stage a bit, in Chapter 6 of the book of Judges, we get to know a bit more about Gideon, a great hero of the faith. God’s chosen people, the Israelites, had just been ravaged by the Midianites. The Israelites, once again, cried to God for mercy, and God was once again about to pour out mercy on them. He even had His battle leader already hand-picked. But, this was not just any battle leader…this was Gideon, a simple wheat thresher.
Judges 6:11-16 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Emphasis mine)
“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
Friends…God saw Gideon as He was making Him – into a mighty warrior. You see, in the very next chapter, God uses Gideon to totally defeat the Midianites. Gideon had a different name for himself – weak, the least, a simple wheat thresher. But God turned Gideon’s name of weakness into strength.
Ladies…what name has God given you that you have yet to discover or take hold of? What name have you placed upon yourself that has crippled you? Are you pretending – like “Julie Diane” did that day many years ago? Are you living below the name that God has called you? Or – are you choosing to walk by faith with your new name?
God revealed to me recently that I am very quick to apply names to myself, and typically those “names” I use are not edifying to Him.
As a widow, I also became…Lonely. Lost. Confused. Scared. Abandoned. Now, while these are very precise adjectives that could easily be used to describe me at different places along the journey, they were never meant to be a name of permanency…something that I would “become”, in other words.
Recently, I called myself a few other names…forgetful, inadequate, and fat. Again, I may experience seasons of each of those…but God has never told me I am those things. Rather He tells me I am…
Made in His image
Intimately known by Him
…just to name a few.
Isaiah 40:26 “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and CALLS them BY NAME. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Emphasis mine)
Not only did God create each and every star, but He also called them each BY NAME. Do you know how much more important you are to Him than the stars?
On the days that grief is wearing you down and the enemy tries to tell you that you are defeated and that you will always feel this way, remind him who God says you are and that you are choosing to be called by the names He has for you! You are not just a grieving widow…you are so much more to Him than that! Go to His Word, whisper His name, call out to Him and ask Him…ask Him to call you by name. Own THAT name dear ones. On your darkest, saddest day…allow that name to be the one you hear. On the day when you feel as if the burden of grief is too great to bear…allow God’s name for you to be your strength.
You are His treasure!