The Power of a Name


By Janel Breitenstein

It was my freshman year of college. I stood nestled in our college choir with the second-altos, clad in a uniform dress that somehow carried the ability to transform my appearance into that of a black olive. The first few notes of the piano introduction were lilting over the auditorium, in our first number after the break: Jesu, Dulcis Memoria. Jesus, sweet memory.

But as the notes softly vibrated, a member of the crowd, we found out, had been seizing. What I did not anticipate was that, as the word Jesu slipped out of our mouths, the seizure would cease.

I’m sure that some could call it superstitious or unfounded to correlate the two. And I’m willing to admit there are other explanations. And yet—I’m fascinated by stories like this in Scripture: God’s power in Elijah’s bones; in Jesus’ coat; in Peter’s shadow.

To be clear, I do believe this can be misconstrued as a sort of spiritualized good-luck charm; my own version of the Israelites bearing the Ark of the Covenant into battle, to disastrous ends. Personally, I’ve misunderstood prayers like James 1:5give me wisdom generously, Lord—to somehow assume I’d be failure-proof, error-proof, difficulty-proof. Somehow I know that when Jesus said All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me, He wasn’t saying so you’ll never be sick or in physical danger or make mistakes. That would, I know, negate the entire Book of Job, or the fact that our forerunner, Jesus, died bloodied and “defeated” in a gross upturning of justice.

Still—the power of His name, without question, is a “strong tower; the righteous run into it, and they are saved” (Proverbs 18:10). It is still what God refers to over and over again as a reflection of His glory—the same glory that seems to bring men face-down to the ground time and time again in Scripture.

Over and over and over again, I have known this, as I know you have. That beautiful name is coming to Muslims around the world in dreams; it is not only humble and sweet enough to be lisped in children’s bedtime prayers, but also weighty enough to be uttered in the dank cells of persecuted Christians, who shelter under His protection and His promises. This is a name which refuses to be flattened by our agendas, yet saves those who simply call upon it in belief.

This week, wherever this post finds you, may you find great refuge in the Name.

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  1. Pingback: Guest post: What's in a Name? - A Generous Grace

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