What’s in a Name?

If you’re reading this blog, you may be wondering why the website is entitled “Valiant Warriors”. Though this is a title I feel applies to everyone who is a follower of Christ in today’s day and age, the title has special significance to me.

Originally, I planned to entitle this site “Wounded Warrior”, but after further consideration I realized this title sounded too defeatist. The current title, “Valiant Warrior”, came to me after my pastor preached a message about who God says we are as individuals. After listing examples of people in the Bible whose names were changed by God, the pastor asked the congregation to spend a few moments in quiet prayer asking the Lord to speak His name for us into our hearts. When the name “Valiant Warrior” spoke to my spirit, I was taken aback. Who, me? Valiant?!

There are several instances in the Bible of God assigning people names, and He generally did so before anyone else could have observed the name’s characteristics in the named individual. In the Old Testament, God changed the Biblical patriarch Abram’s name to Abraham. The name change occurred when the Lord appeared to 99-year-old Abram to confirm the covenant God had made with him. God promised to make Abram (Exalted Father) the father of many nations and to be his God and the God of Abraham’s (the Father of a Multitude) descendants after him. Interestingly, the Lord made this covenant with Abraham even before Abraham had any children with his wife, Sarah. But God knew the bigger picture and what Abraham would one day become (Genesis 17:1-8), and that He would give Canaan (i.e. Israel) as an everlasting possession to Abraham and his descendants.

In another Biblical example of a name change, Jesus changed the disciple Simon son of John’s name to Peter, which means “rock”. In the gospel’s various accounts of this famous disciple, however, we find that Peter, rather than being solid and stable like a rock, was often just the opposite. In fact, Peter is better known for being Jesus’ impulsive disciple. Peter’s lack of stability is evidenced during Jesus’ arrest when he strikes the high priest’s servant and cuts off his right ear (John 18:10). In perhaps his most famous demonstration of un-rocklike behavior, Peter three times denied being Jesus’ disciple (John 18:15-18, 25-27). Despite Peter’s weak moments, however, Jesus was able to see from the very beginning what Peter could and would eventually become by God’s grace.

If the Lord was indeed assigning me the name “Valiant Warrior”, what exactly did that mean? Merriam-Webster defines “valiant” as “possessing or acting with bravery or boldness: courageous” and “marked by, exhibiting, or carried out with courage or determination: heroic”.

Despite my doubts and uncertainty that this was truly the name God had chosen for me, I received confirmation regarding my nomenclature during my morning quiet time shortly after the pastor’s message on God’s specific name for us. I journal and write letters to God regularly, and on this particular morning I wrote in desperation as I often do praying for strength as chronic illness frequently left me feeling weak and concerned that I wouldn’t be able to meet the day’s demands. At times during my journaling, I pray for God to write back to me and in faith I put pen to paper with what I sense the Holy Spirit saying to me. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that immediately after that particular journaling session, I picked up a devotional containing this verse:

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:3-4 NIV).

I’ll be honest with you, I love Jesus, and it’s truly my heart’s desire to please God and be a good and faithful servant. But I can’t say that I enjoy the enduring hardship part. In fact, for most of my life I’ve tried to run from, drown out, stuff down or cover up pain and suffering. Seeing that God has faith in me as a good soldier, a valiant warrior, able to complete the mission for which He has put me on this Earth through His power and the strength He gives me, however, makes me feel like a hand-picked member of His army (which indeed I am!). He’s called me to do what only I can do, and it’s going to require courage.

If you sense that God has a specific name for you (and he does), yet you don’t feel worthy of that particular title, take heart! As with Peter and Abraham, God is likely growing you to become the person he knows you have the potential to be. God knows our strengths and what we’re capable of, and He has faith in us. If we surrender to His plans and allow him to fill us with His power, there is no limit to what we might achieve in this life!

In addition to whatever name God has specifically assigned to you, I believe that if you’re reading this post you are a valiant warrior too. The challenges and struggles that accompany life on planet Earth are not for sissies, and I pray that we can have each others’ backs as we walk through this life together. Like it or not, we’ve been deployed in the Lord’s army!

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