“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare
Forgive the cliché Romeo and Juliet quote but currently I am neck-deep in Shakespeare For Children, a lovely read-aloud for school that keeps my 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter riveted…. Not really. But, let me ask you, is it true? Do any of us really believe this? I have never met an expectant mother who flippantly dismisses the privilege of naming her child saying, “What does a name matter?” All four of my children have some aspect of a family name within theirs. A grandmother’s middle name, the same initials as Dad (and his dad, and his dad), and the baby has both Daddy’s name and my precious grandmother’s. When he is grown, he may not remember her sweet face and soft hands, but he will know that he carries her middle name with him because there isn’t a week that goes by that I do not say, “Who are you named after?” The tow-headed 5-year-old answers proudly, “Nannie.” That’s right, Baby. Don’t ever forget it.
The Bible is a virtual endless study on names. We read about lineages and “begots.” We read how names changed when God intervened and altered life paths. And we could mediate forever on the many names of God, what they speak about His character, and what they mean for our lives. Places in the Bible have significant names as well, often marking an event that took place there. For example, Genesis 35:15 says, “And Jacob named the place Bethel (which means “house of God”), because God had spoken to him there.” (NLT)
Well, I came across one such instance lately that has me simply churning inside. I am hopeful it will be as profound to you as it was to me:
So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The Lord did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “THE LORD WHO BURSTS THROUGH.“) 2 Samuel 5:20 (NLT)
Floods, hurricanes, tsunamis… we have been bombarded lately with pictures of how powerful water can be when it bursts through. Perhaps it has been more than an image for you, maybe you have seen the damage it can cause first hand. I get water. I grew up surrounded by water. I know that the same gentle water of the lake that laps at your toes as you catch minnows by the shore, will feel rock-hard when you fall full-speed from your skis. I know that the tide that brings endless treasures to the sandbar will quickly destroy your sand castle, or sometimes the sea-wall. I know that often, right beneath the ocean’s stunning blue-green waves, lies a dangerous undertow. In a drought we pray for water to come. In the storm we pray for water to subside. Water is a thing of beauty. Water is a thing of power.
The Lord who bursts through… I literally cannot get enough of this imagery. Anyone out there need a little bursting through? There was a season not long ago that I was fervently praying for some breakthrough in my husband’s life. Daily. Earnestly seeking God on his behalf. Interceding. During this time, the Lord gave me a compelling picture. I could see my husband like a statue, almost like The Thinker, bronze, frozen, hardened. As I prayed, the outer shell began to crack and fall to the ground. In my mind’s eye he began to break free, stand-up and stretch out. He burst through what was entangling him, what was trapping him. As I continually put this picture before the Lord in my prayer time, I watched small changes happening in my husband’s life. I watched him burst through distraction, burst through apathy, burst through a hardness of heart. I love a little bursting through.
Often in the storms of life we pray for Jesus to calm the wind and the waves like He did in Mark 4:39. To be sure, ours is a God who has the authority to say, “Be still,” and all elements, both natural and supernatural, must obey. But I wonder how often we pray that Jesus would be the storm? How often do we pray that He would not only subdue the forces coming against us but that He would BE the force that bursts through? Like a tidal wave of justice and goodness and blessing, He would burst through our circumstances and we could say like David, “The Lord did it! He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” None of us are probably facing Philistines today but someone reading this is facing financial uncertainty. Someone is up against the enemy of apathy and disinterest in their marriage. Someone is fighting hopelessness in their singleness. Someone is being bombarded with illness, depression, and strong-holds of sin and wrong-thinking. Someone is contending with fear, sparring with shame, brawling with unforgiveness, battling bitterness. Me too.
So, maybe instead of asking God to calm the storm we can ask Him to BE the storm in our battles today. If calming the storm is defensive (and we love defense, don’t get me wrong, defense wins games), BURSTING THROUGH like a flood is offensive. I don’t know about you but I think it’s time for a little offense! Maybe a calm storm is overrated sometimes and what we need is a hurricane of Jesus proportions. Visualize the dam breaking, picture the geyser erupting, envision the rolling power of a tsunami and then remember that your God is the GOD WHO BURSTS THROUGH!
Names matter. They hold power. I may be calling our little Ranchito out here in West Texas Baal-perazim for awhile. Heck, I may be calling myself that too. I want this home to be known as a place where the Lord burst through. I want these kids, this marriage, this man of mine, my tribe, and my needy flawed self to be marked by the flood of His presence. Baal-perazim- the Lord who burst through. Do it Jesus! BE THE STORM!