I was excited to hear best-selling author, James L. Rubart, speak at the monthly meeting for the Northwest Christian Writers Association. Two years before he spoke about his six year journey to publication and the discouragement of repeated rejections. At that time, he urged us to keep writing and not give up on our ambitions. “Step through your fear, out of the shadows, and into the destiny and the light God has planned for you.”
Since then, he’s written and published books faster than I can finish a grocery list. I knew he’d be encouraging. Maybe he’d unlock the secret to getting published. Maybe he’d shed some light on a marketing plan that couldn’t fail. Maybe he’d give tips on plotting my novel.
I was ready to learn.
He began talking and I began typing, but it was not what I was expecting to hear. (The italics are from Rubart’s keynote.)
The thief comes to steal and destroy, he wants to destroy our dreams and our desires.
Our desire reveals our design, our design reveals our destiny.
Do we know our names?
Child of the King
Heir to the Kingdom
The one Christ died for
Kings and Queens
We have taken on false identities that are not true, that are keeping us back.
From 8th grade I believed the lie, "You can’t write."
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Are you kidding me? That’s a total lie.
What names have you been called? Loser? Lazy?
When Rubart mentioned the names we were called, tears instantly transported me back to the winter of 1982. Although nearly 50 years old, the wound was still raw. I was thankful I was sitting alone at the back of the room so few would witness my breakdown as I relived the painful memory he’d revived.
I’d entered the locker room to question my PE teacher about the D on my report card, figuring it was an honest mistake. It was one of my favorite classes taught by one of my favorite teachers. I was good at sports and tried to be helpful and friendly during class. I didn’t even complain when she made us run laps. Besides, it was my senior year and this grade would seriously affect my chance for Salutatorian.
I assumed I’d receive a changed grade, but she unloaded unexpected rage. Her dirty-blonde Dorothy Hamill hair bobbed around her face, her open mouth gave me a view usually only her dentist saw. Her tirade ended with, “You really think you’re something! You walk around here like you’re the Queen of @#$$%!”
The unleashed fury was so shocking, I could only escape.
I tore down the hallway, into the institutional green bathroom and locked myself in a stall. I crouched on the toilet seat so she couldn’t see my feet. She came into the bathroom and called, “Melinda! Melinda!” But, it was too late. The other name she used had seared a hole into my heart. I bit my lip hard so she wouldn’t hear me cry or breathe. When she was gone, I freely sobbed.
It wasn’t only about the grade. I had thought she liked me. I couldn’t begin to imagine what I’d done to deserve the D and her attack. It wasn’t due to lack of effort or participation on my part.
Her hatred for me cost me my class rank, my ability to vie for scholarships and my trust for adults. Worse than that, it branded me with a name of shame I wore for decades.
Rubart continued talking. He told of the girls from India who were named “unwanted” at birth but had a ceremony in to chose new names.
God is in the business of renaming. He renamed Abram to Abraham. Sarai to Sarah.
There’s a name God wants to give you.
There’s a name He wants to erase from you.”
The fall after the name-calling incident, I was a typical non-Christian college freshman without parental restraint and attended every party I could find. But I had another desire that couldn’t be quenched, to find spiritual answers to life’s questions. I began attending several Bible studies and reading the Bible daily.
The tug of war over my soul didn’t last long, I became a born-again Christian and experienced a life-change in October. The following week, I mustered up the courage to attend the Campus Crusade meeting advertised on a campus bulletin board.
Afterwards, a young man with the love of Jesus radiating on his face approached with a smile, stuck out his hand and said, "Hi, what’s your name?"
My name…my name…my name…it struck boldly and instantly in my mind. I’d been reading the verses in 2 Corinthians that said faith made you a "new creation in Christ." I decided a new creation needed a new name.
"Hi, I’m Mindy," I said.
As I grew in faith, I realized how profound this action was.
Rubart continued, “ Revelation 2:17 says to him who overcomes…I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.
God loves to give names. So does the enemy.
Next week I encourage you to get alone and silent before the Lord, and ask “What would you call me?”
Also go through the list of names you were called by the enemy and release them. Pray over them and reject them in the Name of Jesus.The Lord is into Names.”
Rubart offered a way to transform the title of shame spewed with spittle and hatred by my high school teacher to a name bestowed in love by my heavenly Father. I prayed. Weeks went by. I continued to pray and ask the Lord for a new name.
One Sunday I sat in the pew warmed by the words of faith and worship that swirled around. In prayer, I released burdens to the Lord I’d carried way too long.
My new name settled around me like a mantle of peace, a covering of love.
I’m no longer a teenager named in hatred by a teacher for reasons I’ll never discover, I’m a woman loved and named by Someone who died for me for reasons I’ll never fully comprehend.
The wisdom Rubart shared that evening wasn’t what I’d expected, but it was exactly what I needed.
In each of his books, Rubart’s characters undergo serious transfomations as they replace lies from the enemy with truths from God’s Word. You’ll be enthralled not only with the fast-paced action, but with the spiritual awakening within your own heart.
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