Don’t tell my parents, but I never loved the name Misty. I always wished that I could have a more adult-sounding name – something with a bit more gravitas.

I remember once while a student at Juilliard, our old German conductor stopped the orchestra to address me in his thick accent. “Principal horn, what’s your name?”

“Misty,” I said.

He replied with a smidge of disdain in this voice, “What’s your real name?”

The whole orchestra laughed at me and I wished I could disappear into the hardwood floor. If only I had a quick wit, and could have come up with a quippy reply! All I could say was, “That’s my real name.”

Having this name in the music world also brought with it many serenades of the jazz standard ‘Misty’. I was always so glad that it was actually a good tune because I heard it and heard it until I was blue in the face. Who knew that my name came with its own theme song which speaks of wandering through a wonderland in dazed abandon? To me, that all just seemed so vapid and way to dreamy for real life. That is, until Jesus radically changed my outlook.

But what does a name really mean?

In religious circles, we have our own names for famous people in the Bible, even though these are not their real names. We call them things like, “The woman with the issue of blood, ” or “Blind Bartameus.” We describe them in ways that mark them by their deficiency. Remember doubting Thomas? Or that wee little man, Zacchaeus? Let’s be honest and admit these names identify their former state before their encounter with Jesus.

For example, the one that religion identified as the Demoniac of the Gadarenes should really be known as the Apostle to the Decapolis. I mean, the bible says after he was freed he became the evangelist to over 10 cities! The Woman with 5 husbands should be known as the first Evangelist of the early church. And many theologians believe that Zaccaeus actually was Mattheus, the apostle who replaced Judas Iscariot. No wee little man in the spirit at all and one who followed Jesus so radically that he was martyred for the gospel!

What does it say about the church that we are so quick to identify our own heroes of the faith with what they were before their encounter with Christ?

See, before my encounter with Christ, I was a classical musician. A hornist. I spent a lot of years and a lot of energy building that resume and earning the accolades that went with that title. The closer I get to Christ, the more those dreams seem to fade along with the aspirations associated with any of that former life. Do I still play the horn? Absolutely. Do I identify primarily as a musician? Not anymore. The wild thing is, I don’t primarily identify as a worship leader either even though I am glad to serve Him in that capacity. For years, God has been unraveling me and pulling apart these old constructs that I tried to use to make myself into something. He’s been showing me what it looks like to be a minister to His presence and let everything else flow out from that.

So what’s your name?

What if I told you God has a name for you? A name with meaning. In Isaiah 8:18 we hear the prophet talking about himself and his offspring. He says that both he and his children have purpose – they are for signs and wonders that will occur. Study out what Isaiah’s name and his son’s names mean sometime and just see how what happened in the community around them became a reflection of the literal meanings of their names. What if, like Isaiah and his sons, your name doesn’t just have meaning for you, but for the world around you?

My son Luke’s name means bringer of light. My other son Isaac has a name that means son of laughter. Jeremy’s name means God will uplift or unloosen and oh! That is so accurate for what God is doing in and through him in this hour. As I have learned the meanings of their names I have begun to pray that God would release these things through them and for them to be signs and wonders in our day.

Coming to terms with my name

Do you know what the name Misty means? Of the Mist. And do you know what mist is? It’s something caused when two different atmospheres meet. Water and air. Warm and cool. Heaven and Earth. Therefore, one could say Mist is something that lingers between heaven and earth.

My, my, my. As God takes me apart and remakes me into what He wants me to be, it seems I am starting to identify with my given name after all and see in it a reflection of my calling. You see, as God reveals His version of our identity to us, we receive permission to be who we secretly wanted to be all along. Remember how I said I thought I had wanted to have gravitas? You know what that word means originally in Latin? Weight. Heaviness. Well, I am realizing in this journey that I don’t want to be weighted down and heavy at all.

As the Holy Spirit is showing me what it is like to truly embrace being ‘of the mist’, I am coming into the joy of living in wonder, discovery, encounter, and exploration. I am feeling a heaviness leave me and a lightness come upon me. I am learning to walk in Heaven on Earth – an in-between person who refuses to be ashamed to pursue the heart of God and the mysteries of the cross. I say to my husband all the time, “I know this is going to sound weird but…..” and then I just begin to talk about the mysteries of God, because that is where I am. I believe this is where the Apostle Paul was too when he said, “How great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We can live in the riches of the glory of this mystery. Wow! What an exciting place to hang out! Maybe my theme song wasn’t so off base after all, since I seem to be ‘wandering through the wonderland’ after all.

Man, what a change. For some, God changed their name to show them their identity. For me, He’s revealed my name as exactly what He had for me and means for me to walk in. Maybe he wants to do the same for you. As for me, I feel like I am still in the middle of this journey, but I am so thankful for those who have loved me through it. Only friends of destiny can walk with you through a cocoon transformation like this and still honor who you are when you shift in your identity. Find friends like that. It’s worth it to know your real name.

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