*Saul, a fierce and violent crusader set to destroy the people of God, puts off his false self through a series of supernatural encounters and takes upon his true identity, Paul. And he leads God's people into freedom. Jacob, whose name means "the deceiver," spends most of a lifetime living out that fateful identity. Then he wrestles with God in a blow-by-blow all night battle, crying out, "I won't let you go until you bless me!" (Gen. 32:26 paraphrase). God wounds Jacob in the hip, leaving him with an injury that strips him of the last bit of self-sufficiency. God gives him his true name, Israel, and from the strength of this revelation, Israel is able to walk with God and fulfill his destiny. Abram, at the ripe old age of seventy-five, has an encounter with God and becomes Abraham, the father of many nations. And at the age of one hundred, he completes the process of becoming his name. Simon betrays Christ, not once but three times. Later as he lives out the full stature of his given name, Peter, in partnership with the power of God, three thousand men and women come to faith during the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2).
What is God showing us here?
In order for us to become who God meant when he meant us, we must seek to encounter God and receive the name He wants to bestow upon us. Yet we must also engage in the slow and steady process of apprenticeship to become our name. In the words of George MacDonald, since we are, so must we become.
"The giving of the white stone with the new name is the communication of what God things about the man, to the man. The true name is one that expresses the character, the nature, the being, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man's own symbol, his soul's picture in a word, the sign which belongs to him and no one else."
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch....you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. (Isaiah 62:1-2)
In the book of Ephesians, Paul wrote, "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name" (Eph. 3:14-15). God has called you by name. Your name. "After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun" (Rom. 8:30 MSG).
You'll notice that in scripture, when a person encounters God, they are often given a new name, handed a parcel of heaven, and told what is written on their white stone. This isn't an event that happens in the eternities, it is a gift awaiting you now...the kingdom of God is NOW (Luke 17:21)! It is the manifestation of the soul's journey from the false self and the fig leaves we've hidden behind, to the true self. A person's name is the soul's picture of who and what they are intended to become. And the process of initiation is the journey a person must take with God if they are to become their true name. Receiving your new name from the Lord won't be obtained via a volunteer who gives the same name en masse through a ritual or ordinance. Rituals and ordinances are given by God for one purpose: to point the recipient to the real thing which awaits the faithful.
God is constantly inviting us to, like Adam and Eve, come out from hiding behind the false self and begin the ever-deeper journey of knowing and becoming who we were meant to be. At the center of God's saving work, His restoration work, is a restoring of our identity, our name. He is whispering to us the answer to the soul's deepest question: Who am I?
Isaiah 56:5 To them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.
Isaiah 62:2 The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will designate.
Revelation 3:12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my new name.
"Who Am I?"
*Many of the thoughts in this post come from the book: Becoming a King by Morgan Snyder. This book is well worth the read.