Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My New Name

I was reading the book of Isaiah, when verses 2&3 of Chapter 62 captured me.  "The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory;  you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow." 

My mind  recalled the biblical stories of people who left their old identities behind, learning from their failures, struggles and pain and began a new life, with a new purpose, founded in their relationship with God.  People like Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, Paul, Peter, David, Ruth and Jonah, each of them given new names - a new life through God.

I immediately identified with this, in more ways than one. I am not who I was.  It is incredible to look back and see all the ways that I have changed, and as a result my life has changed.  The funny thing is I never really purposely set out to change. In fact, I thought I had everything pretty much together. Of course there were things I did, that I am not proud of, but at the time, it did not seem like such a big deal.  I knew that there was more to life than what I was living.  I knew there was something bigger than myself. I believed in God, but I certainly wasn't living for Him.  So I thought I would try, I would put in the effort, I had nothing to lose.  I started going to church regularly and listening to what was being said. I read the bible and prayed and as I did, things became clearer to me and started to make sense.  As I pressed into God, He began to pour into me.  I could see my prayers being answered, I experienced things that could only be described as miraculous and my life began to change. In the midst of living life, God began in me, an incredible process of transformation.

I've been blessed, to have been able to maintain relationships with friends from each stage of my life. Each friend means so much to me, they  have played a part in who I am and in who I am becoming.  All you have to do is ask any one of my friends, who knew me before I knew Christ and they could testify to who I was and the overwhelming change they have witnessed in me.  Though some things should be left undisclosed, remaining only among friends.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that when we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, we become a new creation. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" I can not explain it any better. I experienced a metamorphosis like a caterpillar to a butterfly. Cliche but true!  I was given a new life.  A life that at times leaves me in awe.  A life I wouldn't trade with anyone.

Being called by a new name, that's the part of the verse that really resonated with me.  My given name is "Cathleen".  Though since birth and for the better half of my life, friends and family have always referred to me as Cathy.  This was a name I came to loathe, correcting family and friends in recent years when they called me by it.  There was no specific reason for this, except perhaps I felt that I had outgrown it. It is interesting though, that the only people who refer to me as Cathy are those who knew me, before I knew Christ.  It's almost as if, with my new life, I got a new name. Like Abram to Abraham, I went from Cathy to Cathleen.  Now obviously, this probably had more to do with the fact that I subconsciously no longer wanted to identify with who I use to be.  Of course I experienced many good things, previous to my relationship with Christ, and even the bad things God has worked together for good, but that is not the person I now wanted to be identified with. "Cathleen" represents the new me. As a believer in Jesus Christ my identity is that of a "new self", not a perfect self, but an improving self.  "Every item of [my] new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it." Colossians 3:9

Henri J. Nowen, an author I quite enjoy writes, "God always calls. To hear that call and allow it to guide our actions requires discipline in order to prevent ourselves from remaining or becoming spiritually deaf. There are so many voices calling for our attention and so many activities distracting us that a serious effort is necessary if we are to become and remain sensitive to the divine presence in our lives.

When God calls, God gives us a new name. Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul, and Simon became Peter. We must search for this new name because the new name reveals the unique vocation given to us by God."

This past Christmas, an old friend left me a message, and for the first time that I can recall, they referred to me as Cathleen.  In that moment it felt like things had come full circle.

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