I’m not who I used to be.
Although I accepted Christ at a young age and had times of being close to God, most of the time I just wanted to live my own life.
I look back on my high school and college years in particular, I feel guilt and regret over some of the choices I made. Needless to say, I didn’t have a great reputation because of some of those poor decisions. If you asked someone from those days to describe me, “wild, selfish, reckless, underachiever” might be some of the descriptions.
But God never gave up on me. And when I finally decided to stop living for myself, He was right there ready to take me in and make me into something new.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
In Genesis, we read about Jacob. He had a bad reputation too. His name even meant “heel grabber, deceiver”. He stole the family birthright and blessing from his own twin brother, Esau. Then he ran away to escape his past and stayed away for a long time.
When he finally came back to see his father again before he died, he was afraid of what Esau would want to do to him. The day before he arrived where Esau was, Genesis 32 tells us that he was alone in his tent and he wrestled all night with a man (spoiler alert: it was God). In the end, Jacob won the struggle and the “man” dislocated Jacob’s hip so he would always have a reminder of that night and how he prevailed. At that time Jacob was also given a new name:
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Gen 32:28 NIV
And how did Jacob wrestle? Hosea 12:4 says that he wept and begged for His blessing. Please don’t miss this! Don’t we sometimes wrestle with God too? Don’t we struggle with doing things our way or His way? Don’t we sometimes cry out to God and beg Him to change us, so we won’t be the same person we used to be? I know I do.
Back to my story…I have been given a new name like Jacob (Israel). I am so thankful that God wrestled with me and didn’t let go of me until He changed my name forever.
From the outside, the change wasn’t immediately visible. But as I prayed, read the bible, and stayed connected to my Christian community and friends, my desire to please God became stronger. In turn, my desire to please myself diminished. I thank God every day that He didn’t give up on me and pray that He will continue to change me little by little. It’s an ongoing process…
Maybe you have been living life your own way. Maybe you carry guilt from choices you have made in the past. Well, guess what? You can let God change your name, too! If you will surrender your past to Him and ask forgiveness, God can do amazing things in and through you! He can save you in an instant and use the rest of your life to make you into the woman He created you to be.
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:9