Friday, December 23, 2005

white stone

Ever had a Christmas present that you just could not wait to open. I am waiting on this one.

Revelation 2:17 (NLT) Everyone who is victorious will eat of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.

John's vision of a future overcoming people is facinating to me. In the ancient world, victors in the games were given small white tablets called tesserae, it had writing on it; and, generally speaking, the possession of a tessera conferred some kind of new privilege or status upon a man. He was then viewed and treated differently culturally and economically. One of the features of the Old Testament is the giving to a man of a new name to mark a new status.

I like the story of Jacob. Hebrews named their children based on something that was true or desired to be true of the child. Jacob at birth was a twin and was said to have grasped his brother's heal during the birthing process and pulled him back in order to come out the firstborn and receive the birthright. Thus first in line for his father's inheritance. Jacob is what they named him which means surplanter or in our day "manipulator". He would win first place on the apprentice or survivor no contest! You can see Jacob living up to his name throughout his life until something very powerful happens to him. Jacob finds himself in another major fix that he is not sure he will survive. His brother, the head of a fast approaching army, is going to kill him. In Genesis 32:24-30 a story is told of a strange "man" who wrestles with Jacob the night before until morning.

This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until dawn. 25 When the man saw that he couldn't win the match, he struck Jacob's hip and knocked it out of joint at the socket. 26 Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is dawn." But Jacob panted, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27 "What is your name?" the man asked. He replied, "Jacob." 28 "Your name will no longer be Jacob," the man told him. "It is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won." 29 "What is your name?" Jacob asked him. "Why do you ask?" the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

In the match, the "man" askes Jacob "What is your name"? The he gives him a new name "Israel" which means prince with God. A different man emerges from the wrestling match. A changed man I would submit to you. A man who now sees himself so much differently than the night before. A man who for all of his life had to control, manipulate or deceive to make it now becomes a prince with God? Amazing! He now sees a whole new world and walks with God through life with hope and faith moving toward the fulfllment of his destiny.

I ask you, do you know who you are? Do you know where you are going? I believe God has a new name for each of us? It stands in contrast to the old names and old ways of living. I believe each of us can emerge out of life's struggles with fresh insight about our real identity. I believe we will never end up where God intends (destiny) for us to if we don't truly discover our real selves. I also believe that God is the only one who can tell us who we are. His voice is the one I need to hear. I have to struggle with Him and win before I can struggle with this world and win.
The rest of my life is then catching up to what God is showing me is true about me. It is based on the way he sees me-based on who He says I am. Today, like yesterday and the day before, I have to reject my old names, labels, and failures that continually seek to define me and volitionally "put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." This is my daily ritual. To stand in my new identity which is found only in Christ. I am new. I can be different because of what God says about me. His word about me is defining reality for me. This is what it means for me to walk by faith and not by sight. This is a life-long conversation I am having with God. By the way, I can't wait till I see my white stone! I am dying to know what it says.


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