When the whole world walks away, God stays

With mom and dad following graduation in May, 1973 from Concordia- River Forest.  Note my cool tie!

“When the whole world walks away / You’re the God who stands / With wide open arms / And you tell me nothing I have ever done can separate my heart / From the God who stays.”- Matthew West

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”- Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

After my sophomore year at Luther South, the Henning family embarked on a vacation that culminated at Expo ’67 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  I distinctly remember the mosaic tile design on the Iran Pavilion and a type of moving cyclorama that made you feel you were in the middle of a Canadians hockey game at the Montreal Forum.

However, my parents never lost sight of the God who stays, especially on vacation.  Before our trip, my parents arranged lodging in Montreal with a host Lutheran family.  Not only that, we also attended the Sunday service at their small church.

Above all, mom and dad remained firmly committed to my Christian education.  Through their financial support and personal involvement at the grade school, high school, and college levels, they instilled in me a lifelong faith in the God who stays.

Early on in my life, mom took time to explain the meaning of my given first name.  David comes from the Hebrew dod, meaning beloved.  So, even when the whole world walks away, I know that I am loved by God.  Writing in Your New Name: Saying Goodbye to the Labels That Limit, Esther Fleece Allen underscores that God knows your name and the true you.  Therefore, even your earthly name is precious to God.  Furthermore, Esther notes, God gives names unique to our personal circumstances. And assigns new names to replace the labels we once wore.

Certainly, Esther acknowledges, many labels in life limit us.  These include labels assigned to us via our:

  • circumstances
  • deficiencies
  • acceptance of things others say about us
  • backgrounds
  • belief in Satan’s lies or the lies of others

As a result, Esther asks, What labels placed limitations on your life?  What false names that others assigned to you served to hold you back?  No matter how you answer those questions, Esther exhorts you to internalize that God’s name for you represents the truest thing about you.  Hence, it’s the core to your very identity.  Because for every label holding you back, God speaks your true name.

Consequently, when the whole world walks away, Esther encourages you to align with your new name:

“When we as Christians don’t live out of our new name, we are usually agreeing with a false label that the enemy has assigned to us.  How many of us walk around thinking we’re not ‘being used by
God’ or ‘overlooked’ or ‘unworthy’ when God has said just the opposite.  When we do not align with our new name and identity in God, we miss out on the spiritual blessing we would receive as a son or daughter of God. . . .  This is why it’s so important for you to realize that you’ve already been renamed by God and that this new reality transforms your identity.”

Finally, Esther reminds us, again and again the Bible shows us that God is the God of new things.  No matter what our season of life or when the whole world walks away, God consistently puts us in position so he can make us new.  And that newness God works inside us shines His glory on the world around us!

About the author

Dave Henning

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