Rename yourself prematurely – not!

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By Dave Henning / April 6, 2020

“I encourage you not to rename yourself prematurely.  Seasons will change.  Blessings will come again.  Naomi’s life did not stay bitter forever, and neither will yours.  Think of what Naomi would have missed out on if she had refused to let hope reenter her heart.”- Esther Fleece Allen

The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer.”- Ruth 4:14 (NIV)

Esther Fleece Allen concludes Chapter 4 of Your New Name as she observes that Naomi responded to her adversity the way many of us would.  Naomi renamed herself.  Speaking to the women of Bethlehem, she said: “Don’t call me Naomi, . . .  Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter” (Ruth 1:20).

Consequently, Esther counsels, we need to demonstrate care regarding the names we attach to ourselves.  For example, Naomi’s name means ‘pleasant’.  However, through her desire to rename herself Mara, she exchanged her God-given name for one her circumstances dictated.  Esther explains:

“When we rename ourselves based on our circumstance, we’re taking our eyes off our Creator and the larger story of our life that extends past the tragedy we may be experiencing. . . .  [Naomi’s] circumstances were devastating, but God did not give this new name to Naomi.  He did not wish bitterness on her, and He wanted to be bigger to her than what was right in front of her.”

Finally, Esther sees no place in Scripture that gives us permission to rename ourselves.  Instead, God renames us.  Above all, Esther sees a larger story at work in this text.  In the book of Ruth, Boaz acted as a guardian-redeemer.  Therefore, he acted on behalf of extended family members living in crisis mode.  When we’re in trouble and need help, God constantly acts on our behalf and redeems us.  He’s our strength in the midst of hardship.

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you resist the urge to rename yourself prematurely?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Old identities feel familiar and comfortable”

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Dave Henning

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