I have a German forehead. It's big. I know that. I've been told all my life, sometimes in ways that were pretty cruel and sometimes in ways where it seemed that people really thought they were informing me or enlightening me about something I didnÂ´t know.
'He thinks your forehead is big.'
'Oh really? Thanks for letting me know!'
At school I wasnÂ´t exactly 'bullied.' It was never really maliciousâusually it would just be a laugh or a giggle or something like that which, if challenged, would blow up into something bigger, but left alone wouldnÂ´t progress.
I had my group of friends and I was respected enough to run my race and it didnÂ´t really ever pierce anything beneath the skin. I sang in front of school assemblies and got full marks in assessmentsâproving I could put my larger than average frontal lobe to good use.
It wasnÂ´t until I left school and I was talking to some of the guys about what others in our grade were doing with their lives that I really thought about it.
'Yeah Ryan's in a bad way. Winded up needing some pretty major counsellingâkissed his whole degree good bye! Billy? He attempted suicide. Copped it pretty hard at school though hey! But Davo, you copped your fair share of names and things too! I don't understand how you've never shied away from the spot light. YouÂ´ve never really backed off. What's the go?'
What's my name?
In 1967 Muhammad Ali tapped gloves with opponent Ernie Terrell in what is now known as the 'WhatÂ´s my name?'fight, so called for the manner in which Ali fought against his opponent, punishing him for deliberately calling him by his former name in the lead up to the bout.
Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jnr to an African American family in Kentucky in 1942. The name Clay harkens back to a time when African Americans were bought and sold as slaves. As part of his conversion to Islam, Clay elected to change his name to Muhammad Aliâsignifying a new identity and separation from the enslavement of his ancestors.
Ali yelled, 'What's my name?' with each sickening blow as he blackened both Terrell's eyes. Exploding against him in blind rage, Ali punished him for calling him Clay and made sure, as he had promised, that Terrell never forgot his name.
Names are important
God knew this.
In Bible we read about Jacob, who has the audacity to wrestle with God. You can read about it in Genesis chapter 32. Jacob wrestles with God and demands God's blessing. They wrestle all night and while Jacob doesn't win, he doesn't lose either. Refusing to let go he yells at God, 'Will you yet bless me?' It's a request God delivers on and he makes sure that this brave man walks away with a new identity.
Jacob means 'deceiver, supplanter, heel grabber'.
At birth he was given this name and it framed the way he lived his life. Up to that point there wasn't a great deal for Jacob to be proud of, but on this day that would change his future, wrestling God he yells, 'Bless me!' And God follows through in the most unlikely way.
He changes his name
'You will be called Israel' God says.
Israel means 'he who wrestles with God' or 'triumphant with God'.
Now how do you think Israel walked away from that fight? The Bible is so clear. It even accounts for us missing the importance in the name change or the transformation that has occurred. It makes it crystal clear. Israel walks away from the wrestling match with 'a limp':
The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. (Even today the people of Israel don't eat the tendon near the hip socket because of what happened that night when [God] strained the tendon of Jacob's hip.)
- Genesis chapter 32, verse 31â32
Israel's whole identity was changed as a result of a name change!
The way he lived the rest of his life changed as a result of his new name!
The generations after him were blessed and he walked with a new spring in his step, indeed 'a new limp', into new potential.
Do you know your name?
I think back to my school days and the names I was called and I know why I didnÂ´t get down on myself, why I didn't change my strideâI know the reason. Deep down inside myself I've always known my name, and it was none of those things they called me.
Do you know your name?
What do they call you?
Perhaps you need a name change.
None of those are titles you have to persist with.
You can change your name today.
Do as Israel did.
Wrestle with God.
Ask him to bless you and to change you and he will.
He'll transform you so powerfully inwardly that it will present outwardly!
Generations after you will not remember your previous names, but the name you are given by God.
It's never too late to change!
And if there are a few guys from the past who want to keep reminding you about who you used to be it might be time to show them, so they never forget who you really are.
David Luschwitz is an Australian Teacher and Evangelist currently based in the South of Spain where he is working on a new book.
To read more of David's writing and to hear his story head to www.davidluschwitz.com
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David's previous articles can be found at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-luschwitz.html