E100 day 10- and now, presenting… the same guy but with a limp and a different name

What’s in a name? I mean, really… what is in a name? Does it really define anything about someone? Some names have meaning because of their origin- usually traced back to the country that they originally came from.

Andrew apparently means strong, while Andy means balding and facetious… who’d have guessed? But more significantly, who decides? I was Andrew as a (really not very sporty or strong) child, and then became Andy before I became bald, and as for the facetious bit…

In the Bible, and Genesis chapter 32 is one example of this, people sometimes change their names after an encounter with God…

So Abram (exalted father) became Abraham (father of many), and now Jacob (he grasps or deceives) becomes Israel (he struggles with God)… but what is in a name?

I was watching the film ‘Life of Pi’ the other day, which has a great section about how the main character gets his name… he earns it and in doing so casts off the names that others have given him… it demonstrates something about him, rather than the things other people have put onto him.

When we give someone a name, we might put some thought into it, and have good intentions, but we don’t, and can’t know how that name will affect the person- so Jacob could have been intended as a gentle joke, or a warning (you were born grasping your twin brother’s heel, don’t always be grasping those in front of you), but it seems that it became a description of how he behaved. It wasn’t until this second encounter with God that he is truly changed- he grasps and grapples with his opponent, in the late night wrestle-fest, but neither has the upper hand, until God touches him on the hip, as if to say ‘you struggle and fight and do all you can in your own strength, and you refuse to give up, which is truly admirable, but you must know that my strength is beyond your understanding, so now be still’. And Jacob, who is now becoming Israel, lies there, with no clever words, no tricks- he knows that he is powerless. And when he is powerless, God blesses him.

I’m just hoping that God doesn’t have to dislocate my hip to get my attention…


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