On a different track, it might've been a beta fish in a bowl. I remember those. They are the easiest things ever to kill. Seems like one meal with one few or too many flakes could kill them. Or maybe if the sun rays stream through the window at just the wrong angle, they'll go belly up. Maybe loving one too much, or thinking about it for too many seconds will do it in. In fact, I'm convinced they are actually just waiting to die.
Patterned after Dandelions. It's when they're about to die that they harbor the most reproductive threat. Tip, tilt, or toot on one in just the right/wrong way, and it'll explode with annoyingly frail yet sticky little seeds that fly all over the place and land in places they don't belong, irretrievably. This could ruin that very beautiful plot of grass the neighbor has worked on so hard.
A week ago tomorrow I witnessed a room full of Women. They had fasted a whole day. They had prayed. I guarantee every single one of them could recite a litany of ways they had done the whole task wrong. We were supposed to pray for ourselves -- to become the kind of women God intended us to be. To slip into an identity. Someone prayed aloud not for self-confidence as the world around us preaches and reaches, but for confidence in God.
I saw women crying, praying, pinning things to the cross, hanging onto one another for dear life. I didn't know most of their names, much less their problems, or how their song of Doing it Wrong might've gone. But I knew what we were all singing.
I was struck that we were all so broken. We think we're alone and embarrassed in the thick of tragic, but we're all on the roll call. All so seared by upturned expectations and daily reminders of how we are just not enough for the people who need us. So many of us had been surprised by tragedies unthinkable in recent hours, days, months. Some of us were still bleeding from that tragic moment a decade earlier that stole everything.
Oh yes, anonymously, namelessly, unknown, and doing it wrong.
Or, yes, perhaps -- being done so wrong that we can't go on, and we just want to float away, like dandelion seeds. Or turn that belly up beta-style.
But there we were, in front of a simple wooden cross. Just some planks nailed together, like some of our lives. And we came for a renaming, to paste over our Anonymity. Then, suddenly, it didn't matter we were doing it wrong. Renaming, new identity, new life. And then it wasn't about us any more, it was the story of the One who was Naming us.
Gosh, that story of Abram. When I reread it as an adult it's hard to believe all that God asked of him. And God asked the poor guy to continue for decades believing that he was to be the father of a great nation, when his wife was barren. Is this some kind of joke?! And Sarai, his wife, she laughed.
God had to keep hammering home the message because it seemed like none of the hard evidence of God's promises were there. So God said you know what, let me just RENAME YOU. Then every time you reflect, every time you introduce yourself, every time some calls for your help or addresses you in any way, you are reminded of the promise. You yourself will be the evidence of God's promises to you, Abraham.
Abraham. Father of many. Father of the entire world. Read the family geneaologies and understand that not a one of us would be here without Father Abraham.
And his wife Sarai -- oh beautiful, bitter, barren sister Sarai. (She and I can be just alike! I think we'd sit at Starbucks together sometimes.) Let's change your name too. Let's just call you a Princess, Sarah.
So often when what I taste is bitter, I know better. So often when I know myself as anonymous, hiding my pain and my sins and my shame in quietness -- the truth is I am a princess. I am living evidence of the promises of God being fulfilled. What I can't see is one pesky seed after another, falling off of me, blooming. Dandelions slowly taking over. And you know, if the whole yard ends up Dandelions, that could actually look okay.
Hey, don't be embarrassed. The people God loved and used and wooed and saved and made promises to -- they are just like you! They are like me -- messed up, despairing in impatience, imperfect, disappointed by the evidence -- but ultimately, always receivers of the promise.
Receive that new name, a new litany. Say it to yourself, include it in your introductions. It's you, you just have to wait for it to come through. [Eventually Sarah, the Princess, she was no longer barren, she was the mother of Isaac, and all generations of God's people.]
I found the secret: we can all be happily anonymous, because there is One Author, writing through us, planting through us, fulfilling purposes through us. He actually specializes in using the people who'd just be so willing to hide and slip away.
Revelation 2:17, THIS is your author, and THIS can be your future:
Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.