God seems to love changing people’s names. From Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah in the Old Testament right through to Simon/Peter and Saul/Paul in the new. A change of name reflects a change of identity. That is what a lot of scripture is about. Getting a genuine change in identity centred on Love himself.
This is a huge struggle. The Israelites preferred slavery in Egypt to their freedom in God. Quite often people released from oppressive environments have no idea how to be part of free society. Their identity is tied up in their previous environment.
The desert gives us the chance to let go of a certain part of our identity that doesn’t fit our present calling. For a long time my identity was as a bassist. I was known amongst two small groups of people in London and in South India as a bass guitar player. Regardless of what my playing ability was I had an impact on a few of those people. I’m glad and privileged to have done that. Yet being a bassist now doesn’t constitute a core part of my identity. I still play and on ocassion enjoy it; but it’s not near the core of who I am called to be. This is a huge tragedy for me but it’s one that I’m learning to accept. What replaces that? I’m not sure.
Reconfiguring old identities is what so much of what scripture is about. But sometimes I prefer my old name.