Mon., Aug. 7, 2017
Exodus 33:17 – The Lord said to Moses, “I will do exactly what you have asked. I am pleased with you. And I know your name. I know all about you.”
Within three weeks, my personal identity was compromised twice.
The first time, a person who represented themselves as me contacted a church treasurer and requested almost $20,000 to be wire transferred to an out-of-state account. Unfortunately, both the church and I were compromised. Please be aware that internet scams can happen to anyone.
Then, Rick and I took some kids on a youth mission trip. One day, our work site was a transitional living situation. We had both of our vehicles at the job site. We believe sometime during the day a bag of mine was stolen from inside of my car. We had been in and out of our vehicles all day, getting tools, water and other things. We let our guard down and did not keep our vehicles locked. This bag contained nearly every piece of my personal identification, except my passport. All gone.
I have heard people shared stories of when they or someone they know had their identity stolen. It can be very unsettling to have strangers infringe on your private life. For about a week, I carried an old wallet with basically nothing inside. It still remains a stripped-down version of the fat one that disappeared while on mission trip.
There are very few things we can truly call our own. Our name is one of them. Several years ago, a man who was a coach at the time for the University of Wisconsin-Madison spoke at the church I was serving. He talked about how there are very few things in life unique to us. One of these things is our name. He challenged us to respect our name, the tradition by which we were named and honor those who named us.
Since my identity has been compromised, I have been thinking about the value of my name. How easily can someone can foil themselves as me. Does this compromise what I stand for and how I conduct myself? What does my name stand for when others hear my name? What is God saying to me through this?
When the Northern Kingdom of Israel was captured by the Babylonians, King Nebuchadnezzar had the best looking, most educated and informed, quick and qualified people brought back to Babylon. He wanted the Israelites to become integrated into Babylonian culture. For this to happen, he chose Israelite leaders to become influencers with the other Israelite people. Among those chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. All four received new names; names which reflected a Babylonian heritage. Yet, the Babylonians had a hard time calling Daniel by his new name, Belteshazzar. It was difficult for them to separate the man from his original Jewish name, Daniel.
It is easy for us to become clear about who we are: what defines us and the call of God in our lives. It is easy for us to lose our identity, either willingly or unwillingly, with culture. We value other’s opinions of what we stand for and how we conduct ourselves. At the end of the day, we consistently fail each other because, well, we cannot be perfect.
Yet, God always knows who and whose we are. God knows everything about us: what we are proud of, what makes us happy and sad, what disappointments we struggle with. God knows our name and what we stand for, even if we struggle with this at times. When we are displeased with ourselves, God finds many things of which to be pleased in us.
Over time, I am recreating the pieces of my identity. At the same time, I am cautiously listening for God’s voice in my life. I know my identity is safe and sound in God’s kingdom.
Lord God – thank you for calling us as your own. Thank you for knowing more about us than we know about ourselves. May we be assured our identity in you is never questioned, but always safe and sound. Amen.
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