Well, I had a great talk with my mom last night reassuring her of my newly retrieved peace (thanks to God commanding me to put everything down for a week and let Him carry it instead). I am realizing that I’ve been carrying too much myself, including my old self “Tyra”. I’ve talked about her a couple of times over the past six months of blogging. She seems to pop back up into life occasionally, usually through friends who accidentally call me Tyra still… and then the accidental slip becomes a habit. Or in the case of most of my family members where I haven’t ever really explained to them the whole name change thing. Honestly, it’s not something that’s very easy for most people TO understand. “You changed your name… because God told you to??? O…K…” then they smile and nod and quickly change the subject. Some have even gone so far as to tell me I’m crazy, hence “The Crazy Mom Blog”.
Most people don’t understand going through a life change dramatic enough to warrant a change of name. Yet, really, when I really think about it, it was less that my life changed and more that my view of God changed. My view of myself changed because I was suddenly seeing my life through God’s eyes instead of my own. That changes a person in ways that most people can’t understand, because they’ve never had it happen to them. And I pray for that kind of change for them! Most people can stand to have a personal encounter with God that changes their entire outlook on themselves and the world around them. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried out to God on their behalf, praying that they would have a PERSONAL INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP with Christ even more intimate than mine is. That they would know Him the way Adam “knew” Eve in Genesis 4:1, with a kind of knowing that only husbands and wives share with each other, the kind of knowing that brings about children and fruit and offspring and seeds.
I haven’t always had this intimate of a relationship with Jesus, even though I’ve always been a church attending Christian. But just like sitting in a garage doesn’t make me a car, sitting in churches never made me a Christian. Anyway, there came a time in my life when I started actively seeking God out of a heart of wanting to know Him more. I was going to a Friday morning Bible study at a local church with some friends. I had attended Bible studies before, but it was really more out of a need for fellowship in a place where I knew no one that anything else. In this study, however, I already HAD the fellowship with the people around me and so through that Bible study I started seeking fellowship with the One we were studying. Through studying God’s word I came to know Him more, and the more I knew of Him the more I wanted to know Him. I wanted to experience Him the way Beth Moore was telling us that we could. There was something about the way that she talked about Him, the way she lit up when she said His name. She wasn’t just teaching because it was her calling, she was teaching because she had a true passion for the One she was teaching about. She had something in her that called out to me like a moth to a flame. I wanted that fire in ME, I wanted the passion that she had for what she was talking about. Through her I started to realize that the hunger I’d had my entire life wasn’t for the things I thought it had been for, it was for HIM. It was a hunger for a relationship with HIM! And OH! When I started setting aside my religion for a RELATIONSHIP, *romantic sign…..* I got what I had always been hungering for. And so much more!
Just like a true bride, when she gets married she is thrilled to take her new husband’s name, I too took a new name. You know how most pastor’s will say that they were called into the ministry? Well, although I was not called to be a pastor, I too have been called. And in that calling has come a LOT of changes. God has taken me through some really wild rides and experiences that you do NOT want to know about let alone experience. To prepare me for this calling on my life, I have seen things that most people never see, and most people would never believe. When I laid down my life to follow God’s call, I laid down the name that went along with that life. And I picked up the name that symbolizes this new life within my bones.
But that doesn’t mean that the old name (and everything that goes with it) hasn’t persistently followed me since then! Oh NO! The sentimental and emotional cord that has bound me to Tyra started out quite short and she followed along behind me very closely. And slowly but surely, bit by bit I’ve consistently tried to sever that cord between my old self and my new self. But the only thing my scissors have done is make the cord longer. And every time she follows behind me a bit farther; so that I THINK she’s gone… but then she just comes bounding back up again with those eyes that just plead “You know you really do love me. You really do want to keep me.” And for a while I’ll look into those eyes and think, it’s just a name, does it really matter what these other people call me? What they call me doesn’t define who I really am. But allowing them to think that I am still that person, by allowing them to still call me that dead person’s name, is lying to them. I let it go for the sake of trying to be polite and not correct people, but the truth is, that’s just not who I am anymore and I need to be honest with myself and them.
In first Chronicles chapter four verses nine through ten we read about a man named Jabez. Now some of you may be familiar with his story, hidden within a huge list of names, but for those who are not:
“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
Now “Jabez” sounds like the Hebrew word for “pain”. His name means pain. His mother called him “pain” his entire life as a reminder that she gave birth to him in pain. There is power in a name because the name of something defines it. When I say “basket ball” you don’t just think about the ball that get’s thrown into baskets, you think about the ball, the sport, the court, the players, the fun, the cheers, everything that is related to basket ball is defined in those two small words – its name. The definition of Jabez’s life to that point, was pain. When he cried out to the One who can do all things, he asked (of all things) to be free from the one thing that had plagued him for his entire life, pain!
How many of us have had pain plague us throughout our entire lives??? You know, there are two different kinds of pain, physical and spiritual. I personally have experienced both and between the two I can say hands down that Spiritual pain is the worst! Because spiritual pain is a pain that doesn’t go away when you rub it, there’s no pill that you can pop to make spiritual pain go away. When your body is in pain there is a multitude of ways that humanity has come up with to ease that pain… but when your spirit is hurting there’s only one cure. Jesus. Sure, we’ve come up with lots of ways to attempt to substitute some other forms of spiritual cures, from booze, to food, to sex, to violence, but when we really get right down to it, they’re all just substitutes. Like aspartame is a substitute for real sugar, that tastes nothing like real sugar and has horrible side effects, so do these substitutes. They’re nothing like the real thing and they leave behind them horrible side effects and after tastes. Jesus is the One and only true healer of ALL pain, in all of its forms and functions. Jesus is the only one that has the ability to free us from the pain that plagues our souls day in and day out. And when we cry out to Him He can and does free us from that pain. No, the physical pain may or may not leave, but the spiritual pain ALWAYS does.
One hundred percent of our spiritual pain comes from sin. And it may not even be sins that we ourselves committed, it may have been the sins that our ancestor’s committed, or our relatives, or even our neighbors or friends! Our society stresses individuality and the Enemy likes to try to get us to think that our actions only effect us, but nothing could be farther from the truth! Our actions, good or evil, create waves in the air around us. They change our own reactions and the reactions of the people around us, which changes the reactions of the people around them. Nothing that we do, stands alone. Nothing that we do DOESN’T leave a point of impact or change something in the environment around us. Nothing.
I know that my own sins have caused me pain and the pain that I experienced changed me… but it has also changed the people around me too. Through my healing from that pain, came my greatest transformation. A new birth, a new name, a new career, a new lifestyle, pretty much a new everything! From my pain I’ve written a whole book on the sins of my past and how I was transformed from that pain they brought about. An excruciating pain deep in my soul that I couldn’t seem to wrap my brain around or ease with my finger, and yet it throbbed in my heart all the same. Outwardly I looked fine, but inwardly I wasn’t. I couldn’t ever define HOW I was in pain, or where it was really coming from. Until I started earnestly crying out for God to fix the thing that was wrong, whatever it was it was causing me pain and a lot of it! I wanted it gone! And God granted my request. It wasn’t at all the way I thought He would grant it, and yet it was exactly the way it needed to be.
That pain I used to experience, I see it in the eyes of the people I interact with day in and day out. I recognize that pain, because I’ve lived that pain. Oh! For so long I lived in that excruciating un-named pain… and I’ve been freed from it. God gave me a new name because He freed me from the pain that was attached to the old name. “Tyra”, while a perfectly good name, defines that time in my life filled with the pain of past sins plaguing me and tying me up from the blessings God was trying to pour out over me. Tyra, like an umbrella, was blocking God’s blessings and favor from reaching all the way down to me and causing them to flow to the sides of me instead. Tyra was a beautiful person, she loved others, she loved God, but she turned herself into an idol and got in her own way. Tyra made a HUGE mistake and suffered for it for 13 years. But she didn’t suffer alone, she brought her friends and her family and her boyfriend and then her husband in on the pain as well. Misery loves company and so did Tyra. Tyra is a slave. A slave to sin, and pride, and fear. She’s a slave to lust and gluttony and adultery. Sure, Tyra did a lot of really good things too, but all of them were done through the filter of sin and slavery.
When Tyra cried out to God for help, that He would bless her, enlarge her territory, that His hand would be upon her, keep her from harm so that she would be free from pain, He didn’t just grant her request, He leapt for joy. Simply at the fact that she had finally asked HIM. God was so happy that day, that after years of being in pain and searching for answers she had FINALLY come to the ONE WHO COULD GIVE HER THE ANSWERS AND THE HEALING TOO! When she cried out to God that He would bless her, He did so much more than simply bless her, He has consistently enlarged her territory (to the point that it is starting to make her uncomfortable – not that that’s a bad thing!) He has kept His hand upon her, directing her steps and making them more and more sure every day. He has most definitely kept her from more harm that even she could ever imagine!!!!! But the best part of all, He has freed her from the pain. And to signify that freedom from pain He blessed her with a new name. Tamar. A name that symbolizes strength in adversity, fruit in the wilderness, love for the unloved, water for the thirsty and food for the hungry. Tamar symbolizes light for those in darkness, hope for those in desperation, Tamar is a bride of Christ.
I am Tamar, who are you? What does your name mean to you? How does it define you? Is it holding you back? Or is it pushing you forward toward Christ?
Just like Saul, Tyra lived her religion most days of her life, until she came face to face with the One her religion was named after. Have you come face to face with the One your religion was named after? Many people today claim Christianity and yet know very little about what it really means to be a Christian. The every day practices of a Christian vary depending on what denomination you talk to, but the core, the center, the HEART of Christianity has very little to do with religion. It’s ALL about RELATIONSHIP. It’s about having one, with THE ONE. 🙂 Tyra lived her religion, Tamar lives her relationship. Don’t just go through the motions of religion, live them. Don’t pray for the sake of praying, pray because you want to carry on a conversation with the One who heals; because Jesus loves you. Don’t go to church because it’s something Christians do, go to church because He’s told us not to forsake gathering together with fellow believers; because Jesus loves you. Don’t get involved in volunteering because it’s the right thing to do, do it because He’s asked us to be His hands and feet; because Jesus loves you. Jesus loves YOU. Jesus came and fought religion because He doesn’t want empty rituals and empty sacrifices, He wants a marriage relationship with YOU. If that relationship involves a ritual or two, and what relationship doesn’t, then that’s OK. But it’s not the ritual that He wants, it’s not the ritual that He loves, He loves YOU!
Most parents go through a bed time ritual with their children. Usually because the routine of it bring the child comfort in its predictability, it helps the child know what time it is and prepares them for sleep, and they’re fun. As the parent, you don’t go through the ritual just to do the ritual, you go through it for your child’s benefit. There are parts of it that you enjoy and benefit from, but you do it for their sake, not wholly your own. God is the same way. He’s given us rituals to follow to bring us comfort in their predictability, especially when life is so unpredictable! He’s given us rituals to help us know and remember what time it is and to prepare us for what is coming next. But it’s not the rituals that He loves, it’s not the customs we have or the words that we say that He loves, it’s us. The rituals and customs and rules are supposed to REMIND us of Him and His unending love for us. And it’s easy to get so caught up in these things that we forget to look to whom they are pointing. They’re supposed to be pointing us to a relationship with Jesus, to an ever new level of intimacy with Him until we finally get to go home and know Him as we are known. That is what a relationship with Him is about, constantly getting to know Him better. That’s what any relationship is about! You don’t stop getting to know your husband the day you get married, that’s the day you REALLY start to get to know him!
I challenge you today to be thoughtful in what way you can get to know Jesus better; today and every day here after. He is desperate for you, are you desperate for Him? If not, ask Him why you aren’t and start seeking ways to become desperate for Him; hungry for His presence His touch in your life. It’s like a drug that isn’t illegal and shouldn’t ever be, are you addicted to Him? Do you wanna be? I’ve got some you can try, it’s the really good stuff, the kind that you NEVER come down off of either. Because He promises to NEVER leave you or forsake you, not ever; because Jesus loves you.