by David Luschwitz - Press Service International
In 1967 Muhammad Ali tapped gloves with opponent Ernie Terrell in what is now known as the "What´s my name?" fight, so called for the manner in which Ali fought against his opponent, punishing him for deliberately calling him by his former name in the lead up to the bout.
Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.. The name Clay harkens back to a time when African Americans were bought and sold as slaves. As part of his conversion to Islam, Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali—signifying a new identity and separation from the enslavement of his ancestors.
Ali yelled, "What's my name?" with each sickening blow as he blackened both Terrell's eyes. Exploding against his opponent in blind rage, Ali punished him for calling him Clay and made sure, as he had promised, that Terrell never forgot his name.
God knows the importance of a name.
In Bible, in Genesis 32, we read about Jacob. Jacob wrestles with God and demands God's blessing. They wrestle all night and while Jacob does not win, he does not lose either. Refusing to let go he yells at God, "Will you yet bless me?" It's a request God delivers on and He makes sure that this brave man walks away with a new identity.
Jacob means "deceiver, con-artist."
At birth he was given this name and it framed the way he lived his life. Up to that point there wasn't a great deal for Jacob to be proud of, but on this day that would change his future, wrestling God he yells, "Bless me!" And God follows through in the most unlikely way.
He changes his name.
"You will be called Israel" God says. Israel means "he who wrestles with God" or "triumphant with God."
Israel walks away from the wrestling match with "a limp."
Israel's whole identity was changed as a result of a name change. The way he lived the rest of his life was different as a result of his new name. The generations after him were blessed and he walked with a new spring in his step, indeed "a new limp", into new potential.
Do you know your name?
What do they call you? Perhaps you need a name change. Liar. Trouble-maker. Trash. Scum. Thug. Adulterer.
None of those are titles you have to persist with. You can change your name today. Do as Israel did. Wrestle with God. Ask Jesus to change you, forgive you and bless you and He will. He'll transform you so powerfully inwardly that it will present outwardly.
Generations after you will not remember your previous names, but the name you are given by God. Forgiven. Holy. Accepted in the Beloved. Redeemed meaning bought back for a price, so we can be set free from sin.
It's never too late to change! •