Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Name is Benjamin . . . NOT Ben


So, when I was about eighteen, I generally went by the nick-name "Ben." I've found that most people automatically shorten the name Benjamin without thinking about it. It was just easier to go by "Ben" than to correct people, and, truth be told, when I was younger, I wanted kids to like me, and "Benjamin" sounded like a "nerd name," or so I was told.

Well, (back to when I was eighteen) my pastor preached a sermon on the names of different people in the Bible. He paid special attention to the names of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Daniel 1:6-7

6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.

My pastor explained that each of them had names that honored God, but it was the practice of the Babylonians to change the names of their captives. This was a way to rob them of their national identity--really, it was a way to tell them who they were, period. If I can change your name, I can tell you anything I want about you--what to eat, how to dress, what to think of yourself. Also, when you claim the right to name someone or something, you accept ownership of it, as in the way that parents name their children.

Each of the Hebrew young men had a name that included something of God, either the "ah" (like the breath of God as was added to Abram's name making it "AbrAHam") or the "el" (a name of God as in "El Shadai").

DaniEL -- God is my Judge
HananiAH -- God has favoured
MishaEL -- who is what God is
AzariAH -- Jehovah has helped

Belteshazzar = "lord of the straitened's treasure"
Shadrach = "royal" or "the great scribe"
Meshach = "guest of a king"
Abed-nego = "servant of Nebo"

I could pend a great deal of time on the word study, but that is not my purpose here. I may go into it later though.

The point is that this message really got my attention.

I have always known what my name means: Benjamin = Son of my right hand (an expression that means Son of Favor/ Son of strength/ Son of(with) Authority)

I also knew the story where Jacob changed his youngest son's name from Ben-oni (son of suffering) to Benjamin.

So. . . here's where things get interesting for me. I had many issues where my relationship with God was concerned, not to mention who I was supposed to be or . . . whatever. I felt like there were many expectations of me, but I didn't even know who I was or what I was supposed to do. Then I hear this message from the pulpit, and something about it "rang true" for me.

For the next week or so, every time someone would talk about me and I'd hear the phrase "Ben and I did such and such, instead of hearing "Ben and I," I heard "Ben-oni." So, in effect, every time someone said they did something with me, I heard "Son of suffering."

I probably don't have to tell you that, for someone with identity and self-worth issues, this was NOT cool.

It finally got to be so annoying that I turned to God.
"Are You trying to tell me something?!"
"Yes." I wasn't actually expecting an answer; I just thought my brain was fixating on the whole "name thing, but that "yes" was as clear as I could have hoped for.

Then God said, "I called you to be Son of Favor, not Son of nothing." This took me a second, but then I realized that "Ben" is a Hebrew prefix that means "Son of. . ." So, by going by "Ben," it was like I was calling myself "Son of . . . . what?" I had allowed myself to be called what others wanted to call me (no harm meant by them), and to let them change who I saw myself to be (this is part of a MUCH longer backstory), and by not accepting God's definition of who I was, I was leaving myself without the identity He'd planned for me, which was the source of my "suffering."

God told me that day that He claimed me--deliberately, specifically. He claimed the right to name me; He was calling me "Son."

So, I'm Benjamin, NOT Ben.

Who are you? :) (here's a hint: It has to do with being LOVED by Him)