Thursday, December 17, 2015

Named by God

In Ephesians 3:15, the Apostle Paul identifies the One to whom he is praying - [The Father] from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named

My name is Eva Maureen Dubert Burkholder. I was named after my aunt. While Aunt E got the shortened form, I never had a nick name. Eva means "life or giver of life" in Hebrew. Maureen came because my mother chose names that started with "Ma" after her name, Marjorie. I didn't appreciate the depth of my name until I gave birth to my first son. My name also helps me appreciate my God who is a life-giver and who has given me both life here on earth but also eternal life.

In grade school, my two closest friends and I created code names for everyone in our class so we could talk about them and pass notes that no one understood. (What a silly schoolgirl thing to do!) My name, for the record, was Jelly Bean. And you know, I cannot even remember why I got that name even though we did have some sort of strategy. In French class, I had to choose a name, so I chose Renee, just because I liked the sound of it. In college, my weird and delightful senior roommates coined a way to abbreviate our names, thus I became Eu Da (pronounced "ooda"). And after pledging to love and cherish my husband, I took on a new last name as well as some endearing names. Oh, the evolution of names in one's lifetime!
Isaiah 49:1b says The Lord called me from the womb; from the body of my mother he named me (NASB). God felt names were so important that he gave Adam the task of giving every creature a name. This became their identity, the description of who they were. Without a name, we are nobodies, not acknowledged. Knowing someone’s name means we know who they are. My Australian friends find it troublesome when we Americans talk about someone who is present in the room using the third person. “She’s (standing right next to me) really happy that our son called today.” Aussies find this very rude. Why would you not use the person’s name, “Jane is really happy”….? Using just a pronoun is dehumanizing.

We have several examples in Scripture of God renaming his children. Abram became "Abraham" (Gen 17:5), Sarai became "Sarah" (Gen 17:15), Jacob became "Israel" (Gen 32:28), Simon became "Peter" (Matt 16:18). God even named his Son "Jesus" (Matt 1:21). When we learn the meaning of these new names, we see that they were pictures of the people God intended they would become.
While I have had many names and code names, the one most precious to me is the name God gave me. After a time of emotional struggle, God named me "Hephzibah" from Isaiah 62:4. 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. I hesitate to share this very personal experience because Hephzibah has been the brunt of many Christian jokes, but it is very special to me. Hephzibah means "my delight is in her". "Delight" for short. (By the way, Naomi, Jewel and Eden also mean "delight".) This naming came at a time when I did not feel delighted in, but God reassured me that this was the way sees me, the way he made me to be, the one I will become.

It is also very comforting and intimate to me to know that God not only names me but he calls me by my name. Isaiah 43:1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. (NKJV) In those times when I am struggling to know who I am or if I am worth anything, God calls me "My delight" and I stand tall and stop trying to get others to tell me how delightful I am.

Recently, my dear friend Lori stepped into the presence of Jesus. How sweet that moment must have been when she heard her Savior call her name - out loud - to actually hear it! "Lori, my sweet one, you are whole again!"
What name has God given you? What picture does it paint of who God wants you to be? What will your Savior call you when you step into his presence?
Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had. - Richard Rohr
My God to whom I pray, You are the One who has named everyone, including me. You see everyone. You know who we are and will become. You are our source, our origin. You give us our meaning and our identity. Thank you for naming us and calling us by our name.

For others in this series, see Let us Kneel.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Tribute to My Friend

I don't actually remember when I first met Lori. One day, she and Ben just showed up at our church. And they wanted to be our friends, so Mark and I started hanging out with them, sharing our stories and doing life together. Little did I know what a blessing I would receive in Lori.

I used to walk by Lori's workplace on the way home from my work. If I had time, I stopped in to see Lori, though she never demanded it of me. She always greeted me with her famous smile, a hug, even a kiss on the cheek. She introduced me to those she worked with and soon I saw what a fan-club Lori had. I watched her share Jesus in such a natural way by simply loving others.

Sometimes, we ate our lunches together and prayed. We shared about our week, our children, our plans. I always felt like she cared just as much about me and my life as I did about hers. She never complained, but spoke freely of how God was her sustainer during her times of illness and her hope for life eternal. She smiled and laughed and I always felt better after being with her.

Because of Lori, my life is richer today. She showed me how to simply be more pleasant, more friendly, more positive and non-demanding, to love others and greet them cheerfully, to rejoice in suffering. Lori taught me what a friend should be like because she was one to me.

When we told Ben and Lori that we were praying about moving away to join a new ministry, Lori gave me the greatest gift any friend can give. She graciously let me go. And now it is my turn to release what I have received, to let her go into the loving, caring hands of her Savior and Lord. And while it hurts to do so and I will miss her terribly, she gave me the gift of true friendship, and that will suffice until I see her again in glory.

Prayer:  I miss Lori, Father. Her smile and cheerful words and questions and stories about her life and kids. Thank you, Lord, for the connection we had, for the easy friendship and laughter we shared, for our wonderful spouses and beautiful children. You have blessed us each by knowing the other. Thank you that she was so gracious when you called me away from her. Thank you that she prayed for our ministry and gave of her own precious supply so that we can live and work in Texas. Thank you, Lord, for Lori's undemanding friendship, her love for You and the joy she and Ben have brought into our lives. Take care of her Lord as she now lives free and whole in your presence.