“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” – Psalm 126
God gave me the above passage as a measure of hope during the darkest season of my life to date. I remember that I was awake at 2 in the morning on a winter’s night, leaned against my bathroom door where I often braced myself against the sorrow of the world I was trapped in. Sleep had not come because I had stubbornly not let it. I was 17 and my heart just felt as if it couldn’t take any more isolation or abuse and the only time I felt a moment of sanity was in the quiet of the night, late into the hours of the only freedom I knew.
Without going too deep into detail, I will simply say that I was desperate for a word from the God I claimed as my own and He reached down in a single moment, that determining moment, and gave me the above words as not only a sign that life would not end this way but a prophetic word that the future would be about new beginnings, mercies unknown, and an overcoming spirit that tells its’ story in declarations of overflowing joy for others to receive as similar messages of hope.
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they didn’t love their live – even unto death.” -Revelation 12:11
And then one night, several years ago now, I stood in front of my peers at a BCM event and declared to them a tiny piece of my story, more than I had ever shared before. Actually, anything would have been considered “more” because this was the very first time I had opened up about my story. That night we were asked to wear a white T-shirt, covered by a black T-shirt. Both had block letters on either the front or the back. The black shirt declared the word “Trapped” on the back as I stood facing the band at the front of the room. Quivering, I shook out my notes several times just to keep the words un-blurred. After we had each shared, a song was played by the band and as they came to the lyrics listed above that are taken straight from Scripture, we pulled the black shirts over our heads and turned around to reveal BRIGHT RED letters on the front of our white t-shirts, which declared who we actually were to all as witness.
Mine said “FREEDOM.”
That night began a journey. A Kingdom journey. One of discovery. One of 2 steps forward and often, 1 step back. A journey to uncover the hidden wounds of the past and definitely a journey to seek healing and redemption for all that was.
Now let’s speed forward . . .
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent…”
The story I have to tell the world is not quaint. It’s definitely not roses and butterflies but it’s real. It’s relatable to someone somewhere and that’s why I will not be silent. She or he needs to know the hope I have come to cling to. The joy I have been given as an unmerited gift. And don’t forget the value I never knew I held. A value that gives me the right to be called a co-heir with Christ. A daughter of the King.
While living in the small country of Moldova on my World Race in 2012, God told me He wanted to give me a new name because at one point in time, I had related to the sowing of tears represented in Psalm 126 but that now, as an overcomer, I had a new name to walk in. Similar to the saints of old, when something big happens in a person’s life, we should move forward in the new work in them and claim their victory right along with them! I asked Him what this new name was, assuming it was to replace “Lauren.” Naturally, I was ready to give it up , even if it meant being called Bertha! Haha! There was so much excitement in the idea of walking out the victory of a new life with a new name!
Then He was silent . . .
My friend, Ashley, asked me if I thought I was to go back to being called Lauren (Instead of my newer nickname, “LO”). “I don’t know? Could be,” I said. Her reasoning was great and played into the redemption of the past. I prayed further into this as the months progressed but eventually gave up on receiving a new name. It didn’t seem to come and I was like, “Oh well, I have the new life. I don’t need a new name. I guess I kind of like my current one anyway, ha!”
“. . . until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.”
My year on the World Race was incredible. I leaned on Jesus to get me through day to day in brand new surroundings and with intensely passionate people who just wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world. It wasn’t perfect. Neither was I. I did change though. I changed little by little with each passing day and pruning of my heart. God continues to shape me. It’s not over yet. Some days it’s painful but other days His hands are comforting. Either way, He’s working on me so that I can be free as me. Lauren.
Which brings me to my month living in Mozambique, this exact thing hit me. My identity had become wrapped up in the word “Minister” instead of who I was created to walk the earth as, “Lauren.” Me. He just wanted me to be me. His story through my story is great without me having to try hard to make it better. I was trapped… Then I represented FREEDOM. That’s enough. I am enough.
“The nations shall see your righteousness… and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord. . .”
Then He told me my new name . . .
“You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called Hephzibah “My delight is in her” and your land Beulah “Married.”
A few days into my month spent in Malaysia, Meghan (One of the girls on a team I was visiting), shared with the rest of her team and I that she felt that God was speaking “New Names” over all of us and that we were to pray into that for the week ahead. We were paired off and at the end of the week, she herself gave me Isaiah 62 and told me what my new name was.
“Yes, Lord. That’s it. That’s my new name.” I was so humbled.
Little did she know that God would speak through this word to confirm the next chapter of my story! As she shared with the team what name God had given her for me, she read Isaiah 62 and closed with these words:
“LO, I just feel that God is declaring your past closed and your future open. That what happened in your past is redeemed and that He now plans to use you as Beloved to bring His Kingdom to earth in a new way, with you walking in a new name.”
“Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples.”
On a rooftop in Penang, Malaysia on day 2 of this same month, God had repeatedly spoken the words “Build up” to me and I was so confused by them that I remember shouting it into the night sky and adding, “…What in the world does that mean???!” When this verse was read aloud in Team Time a few weeks later, the very same words leapt from the pages and into not only my ears but also my heart!
He always shines light on the next step. Have you noticed that? I didn’t know what name He wanted to give me until I was ready for one. Likewise, He spoke the words “Build up” over my future and gave me only a snippet of clarity into what that meant. Would he again come through in the future with further light shone onto the practicality of this personal call? Yes!! Yes, He would! He’s so faithful! Don’t you see?? He gave me a new name at the exact point in time that I needed it. I returned to the states soon after this last word. I prayed that like my new name, God would reveal all that “build up” entailed… and now, I’m walking as His BeLoved and building up the Kingdom of God locally and abroad by sharing with others the imporatace and social impact of THEIR identity as His BeLoved!
And it’s an honor.
Thanks so much for hanging with me as I brought you to the meaning of my new name. Maybe it’s time for you to have a new name. I would like to speak the same name given to me 2 years ago, over you right now as you finish this blog post. You ARE God’s BeLoved. I know He has done so many amazing things in and through you, despite the world’s often complicated impression on your life. Don’t you think it’s high time that you shared with the rest of us, exactly what He has done for you?
Please share your BeLoved Stories here. Whether salvation or a random moment in your day. If you recognized your identity in Christ as His BeLoved, we want to know about! The world NEEDS to know about! So change a life – Tell your story.