We do dinnertime devotions at our house. The book we use is Scripture-intensive and is a challenge for our girls most nights, but we’ve used it consistently, knowing that their understanding will grow because of the higher expectations and that God will use His Word to impact their lives.
Some nights, I’m on my own because Wes has been called away for church business, and on those nights, I sometimes have to refrain from beating my head against the table because nothing is connecting. The girls look at me like I’m speaking Chinese when I exposit the Scriptures, and I wonder why exactly my hermeneutical skills are failing me with these tiny heathen in this God-ordained mission field of mine. (That seminary degree is useless with the elementary crowd, y’all. They are completely unimpressed and unmoved. So very humbling.)
And some nights? I get a huge treat as I hear something truly profound come from these girls. And I’m reminded that God is doing work in them individually that has nothing to do with me. He’s speaking to their hearts — God to Faulkette, one on one — and doing something amazing in them.
Like the name thing.
I was reading through the text given in the devotional book, about how throughout Scripture, we see God change names. I asked the girls to give me some examples from the Bible of times when God changed someone’s name, and Ana was quick to name a few. Abraham, Peter, Jacob, Paul…
“Why did God change their names?,” I asked her. “We know God didn’t do anything without a reason. What did He want us to know about Him that He could only show us through changing someone’s name?”
Blank stares. I was pretty sure I had just asked something above their heads, making the stories of our favorite characters in the Bible more about God’s character than anyone else’s, and I was trying to think of a better way to ask the question when Ana responded.
“Because He changed the people. The new name was about what God had done. Not about the people.”
I nodded. “I think you’re right. Do you think He still does that? Changes names?”
“Oh, yeah,” Emma said, still in the conversation with us. (Which was surprising, y’all. Believe me.) “All the time!”
“What do your names mean?,” I asked them, knowing that they would know the answers, as we’ve shared it with them so many times.
“Full of grace,” Ana answered.
“God is with us,” Emma answered. (It is. We chose Emma because it was the only way we could make our favorite name, Emmanuel, into a feminine name.)
“And will He change those names?,” I asked. “Has He changed them? What is He going to do in you?”
After only a few seconds, Ana answered.
“He will help me to live in His grace forever,” she said. “Not just to be full of grace but to know His grace.”
More about Him than her, clearly. Before I could affirm this, Emma spoke up.
“And God won’t just be with me…. I will be with Him! Forever! Because of what He did when He died for me!”
Again, more about Him than her.
I’m so challenged as we continue to talk through these truths with our kids and as God calls all four of us to approach Scripture, to approach our study, to approach life itself, from a Him-centered perspective, to know that He’s doing His work in their hearts, in our hearts, moving us closer to who He wants us to be, changing our names as He does. My inclination is to set my kids up on a path of right decisions, moral behavior, and doing the right things… which is good, of course! But perhaps the better thing — actually, the BEST thing — is to walk with Christ as He does the work of changing their hearts, setting Himself up to be Lord so that He defines what they do, how they live, and who they are.
Reminding myself that HE changes our names and our hearts and that He alone can do that for Ana and Emma…