“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5)
“(15)Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. (16) And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.’” (Genesis 17:15-16)
“And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’” (Genesis 32:28)
“(17) Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (18) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.’” (Matthew 16:17-18)
“Then Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him.” (Acts 13:9)
I was saved four years ago this autumn. Very soon after I was saved by the blood of Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit laid something on my soul. The problem was that I was a new Christian, I didn’t know much about the Holy Spirit, and I thought this ‘thing’ being laid onto my heart was just in my head. I was told to change my name. That I was such a completely different person, this change went down to the very roots of my being. I am not the person I used to be. I am nowhere near that person. But I didn’t understand the fact I was a new creation. I didn’t have the Biblical knowledge that God did this sort of thing; changed people’s names at key moments in their life.
You see I, Sarah, was a practicing pagan: a Druid. I had a spell book, practiced rituals, and belonged to a grove. I regularly communed with spirits. I was also heavily into the BDSM community. I was a submissive, a sexual slave. Sarah is a masochist. In my life I have had numerous sexual encounters with males and females, some younger and some much older, some married. On top of all of that I persecuted Christians. I mocked them, belittled them, and lashed out at them in so many horrific ways. I told myself it made us ‘even’ since it was the Catholics who burned Druids, and tortured Shamans. I think somewhere in my heart I was angry at Jesus for doing this, or supporting this, or thinking this was okay. I assumed this is what Christians wanted. And I was adamantly against reading the Bible to learn any differently.
Then I got cancer and I started to read the Bible thanks to the pushing of my fiancé Jeremy. I read the book of John three times before I had surgery to remove the tumors. I was terrified of the surgery. My neck is the one place on my body where I am not supposed to have cut open. I prayed a lot that day as I waited to be taken back. Then, right before I went under, I heard the most amazing thing. Three words were spoken to me that changed my entire life. I heard Jesus say to me, “You are mine.”
When I woke up everything was different.
Everything had changed. I actually couldn’t remember anything about my old religion. I couldn’t tell you the names of the gods or goddesses. I couldn’t remember if it was Winter Solstice or a Winter Equinox. I couldn’t remember my spells. I couldn’t remember the meaning behind any of my rituals. My desire to go back to the fetish club was gone. For the first time in my life I began to long for monogamy and hungered for marriage. I found myself thirsting for the Word, and I began to read my Bible a lot. I stopped persecuting Christians and instead publically proclaimed myself one. I lost almost all of my friends. My entire world turned upside down. Nothing about me was the same. From the inside out I felt different. Everyone who was still around me began to pick up on the difference. I no longer responded to things and situations as Sarah would have.
Back then, nearly four years ago, the Holy Spirit laid it on my heart to change my name. I resisted Him. I told myself it was just my imagination. I knew that it would hurt my mom deeply if I changed my name. I couldn’t even begin to fathom how to get people to start calling me a new name. I convinced myself it was too much work for such a little thing. For such a simple thing. So every time the Holy Spirit continued to bring it up, I shoved it back down. It was nonsense. I told the Holy Spirit it wasn’t something that happened in the Bible. So He took me to several verses, the ones above, to show me it was Biblical. That when Jesus grabs a hold of someone for God they so completely change that they are a new person. A new creation. Who Sarah was died four years ago. She was left under the water when I was baptized. Someone new came out of that water. Someone I am still learning and at times fighting for.
What has brought this to a head in these last few weeks is that I began attending a Redemption Group. I signed up because I read the most wonderfully horrific book I have ever read in a long time, “Rid of My Disgrace” by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. If you have ever been raped, sexually assaulted, or abused this is a book I HIGHLY recommend reading. It took me nearly three months to read it. It was so hard, but in reading it I realized I have PTSD from being tormented and raped all those years ago. Despite having seen a rape counselor I am not okay. I realized he helped me merely to function again as a normal human being, but I wasn’t healed. I was so broken inside and I had just come to accept the fact I would always be broken. For six months of my life I was tortured in a hell I couldn’t escape. Then I lost five years of my life because I was completely checked out of my life. I haven’t grieved all of that. All the gritty, horrific, terrifyingly painful memories.
And I have been fighting the Holy Spirit again. He is walking me through this. He is the reason I joined a Redemption Group. On the first night He pressed in on me so tightly. Despite what Jay did to me I am a new creation in Christ. I am completely redeemed. I can be whole through the cross. The blood of Jesus covers even what happened to me. My identity can no longer be there, nor can it be held captive any longer. I struggle with this concept. I struggle with fear. I struggle with the weight the Holy Ghost, HG, has placed on my soul.
I am not who I was. I haven’t been for four years. For four years I have been a new creation. I am a new woman, a fresh and good tree, one who bears the figged fruited desires of God. HG has told me the name of this new creature, this new being, this godly woman. And I am scared to call me by His name for me. I still don’t want to hurt my mom. I don’t want to offend her because I don’t think she will understand. I know this is a fear of man issue. I know Jesus gave me a name. I know I need to start using it. So I pray I have the strength.
Abba, Father … You are wonderful, mighty, and worthy of praise. I can’t believe you wanted a wretch like me. I am in humbled awe that You, Jesus, pursued me for 30 years. You never gave up. LORD you are so good. You are so incredibly good to me. Thank you for giving me this chance to be the woman You want me to be. Thank You for taking out my heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh. Holy Spirit, please, I beg you to be with me. You have been after me for nearly four years now to do this. I want to stop resisting you. I want to fall into the freedom of Your strength, guidance, and control of my life. You wove me together from the very start. LORD You had a name for me from the beginning. Please give me the wisdom to explain this change to those who question. I need Your strength. I will curl up in the comfort of your arms Heavenly Daddy. I will be your daughter.
My name is Lael (Lay-el). It means “Belongs to God.”
I pray that will always be true. I hope to always strive to live up to this name You have given me. In Jesus’ most holy, profound, and wonderful name I pray. Amen.