December 14, 2017 • Life for Leaders
No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the LORD will take delight in you,
and your land will be married…
They will be called the Holy People,
the Redeemed of the LORD;
and you will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted.
What are your names? I’m not asking only about the names given to you at birth. I’m wondering also about the names assigned to you by others, the labels used to identify you, the titles that have brought you honor or shame. I think, for example, of a woman I know whose father always referred to her as the smart one. Among her sisters she did get the best grades. But when her father called her the smart one, she knew that he was also implying that she was not as pretty as her sisters. The smart one, for her, was a name that made her feel ashamed of her average looks.
Have you ever been given a name that hurts or perhaps limits you in some way? Maybe somebody important to you called you loser and you began to think of yourself that way. Or maybe you’ve been the recipient of an ethnic slur, a name that caused you to doubt who you are as a distinct and beautiful child of God.
Titles in the workplace can empower or discourage us. When you’re given a new, authoritative title, you may find yourself working better than ever before. Or, perhaps you yearn to be something more than the assistant director. When will you be a full director? Maybe you’re tired of being called the bean counter just because you actually care about the financial health of your organization unlike your risking-taking colleagues.
In Isaiah 62, we learn that the Israelites had been identified with disheartening names. They were called Deserted and their land Desolate (62:4). These names stung because the Israelites actually felt as if God has deserted them and they grieved over the desolation of their land.
Yet, through Isaiah, God promised to give his people new names. In Isaiah 62:4, they would not be Deserted but Hephzibah, which means in Hebrew, “my delight is in her.” Their land would be called not Desolate but Beulah, which meant “married [to God].” Then, in verse 12, the Israelites would be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD… Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.” God would give his people new names that represented their redeemed and renewed reality.
Do you need to discover the new name or names God has for you? Do you need to know that you are a Saint, one of God’s holy people, set apart for God and his purposes? Do you want to see yourself as one who has been Redeemed? Do you long to know that you are indeed Sought After by God? How would your life be different if you believed that God’s Delight is in You?
God has a new name for you, a name that silences the names of hurt, shame, and limitation, a name that empowers and embraces. Will you receive this new name?
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Can you think of names, titles, or labels that have given you a sense of your own identity?
Have these been positive or negative?
Are there names you have received that hurt you or keep you back? What are these names and where did they come from?
Can you accept for yourself the names given to God’s people in Isaiah 62?
Gracious God, you know the ways our names form us. Sometimes they encourage and empower. Sometimes they wound and limit. Like the Israelites, sometimes the names, titles, and labels applied to us have hurt, have augmented our shame and limited our vision.
O Lord, may we receive new names from you. May we know that we are Saints, set apart for you! May we believe that we are Redeemed and live in the joy of our redemption! May we believe, deep down, that we are Sought After by you, and that Your Delight is in Us!
May we be named and defined by you, by your grace and love, and by your desire for us. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Praying with Passion
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.