In our house, we have a lot of conversations that go something like this…”MOM (two syllables), he called me ___________.” “Boys, be kind and loving. Stop calling each other names.” For once, I’d like to hear in their best tattling voice, “MO-OHM, he called me a genius”. No, it’s always something like loser or butthead.
But these sweet teachable moments (sarcasm intended, lol) remind me of a scripture that God’s been using to heal my heart…
“You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah (My Delight is in Her), and your land Beulah (Married); For the Lord delights in you and your land shall be married.” Is 62:4
Notice the two words I italicized: termed and called. When I look up these words in Hebrew, they seem kind of similar at first, until you see how they’re used in context. Termed-‘amar-to say, speak, utter, avow (to assert or confess openly). It’s just a general word for to speak. When I think of “termed” it makes me think of the English definition of the noun—a term is a limited time frame or definition of a word. Terms set boundaries. A lot of contracts have “terms and conditions” and they dictate what is included and allowed. Now, that’s not all bad in business. But given our context of putting a term or label on someone, it dehumanizes them. It can define them as a behavior or a situation. Fornicator. Divorced. Single Parent. Disabled. Just a stay-at-home mom. Fill-in-the-Blank. When we term someone else we limit them to that condition or season of life. When we term ourselves, we do the same. Called-qara’-to call, proclaim, summon, invite, call and commission, name, endow. For the majority of times this word is used in the Bible, it’s when something is named or calling a person to come. It’s personal. It’s relational. It’s an invitation. Side note: I so wish I could sit down and have some coffee with you and go through how to study the original language of the Bible! Maybe in a future vlog…
A woman in the Bible named Naomi (My Delight) went through a rough season. Because of a drought, she and her husband and their two sons moved away from their home in Bethlehem, which ironically means House of Bread. I say ironically, but nothing in the Bible is ironic. To make the story short, Naomi’s husband and both of her sons died while in Moab. She returned to her hometown brokenhearted and bitter, with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. In a small town, everyone knows everyone and you can’t hide very well. The whole town was astir to see them.
But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” Ruth 1:20-21
She told them to stop calling her “My Delight” and that her condition was “Bitter”. She was defining herself by her season. She didn’t realize that her name was prophetic—she had a delightful future awaiting her. She would become the great grandmother to King David and the great, great, (too many to count)….to Jesus, the Messiah!!
I’ve pulled a Naomi so many times. I’ve gone through yucky seasons, just like every one of us has. Instead of calling those things that are not, as though they were. I was calling them what they were. To quote Sid the Sloth, I’m alone so I must be a “lone, lonely, loner”. (If you don’t know what I’m referencing, you need to watch Ice Age. Lol). Our words have the power of life and death within them. We are created in the image of God; He used words to create the worlds and everything in them. What are you creating with your mouth? Are you limiting yourself and others? Are you creating fences, walls and prisons? Or highways for your future and those around you?
What terms have you put on yourself? Or allowed others to put on you? Stupid. Ugly. Silly. Too old. Too young. Bad. Fat. Unlovable. Unwanted. Loser. Butthead. Stop terming yourself by your current condition! What does God call you? His beloved. His chosen. His delight. Beautiful. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. More than a Conquerer. Embrace your new name. Stop allowing the enemy (even if he’s using your own voice) to call you something that you’re not. Jacob, one of the patriarchs of the nation of Israel, had his name changed by God. But he had to go around and tell people not to call him Jacob (heel holder, supplanter—basically, trickster) anymore. He sent out a memo to friends and family and told them… Hello. My name is Israel (God Prevails). You have a bright future. God thinks about you and has wonderful plans to prosper you. He is for you!
“Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Gen 32:28