“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13 NIV)
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7 NIV)
We were house hunting in a frantic market where a house that went up for sale in the morning could be sold by noon. My wife and I had found an amazing house, right where we wanted to live, and the documents to place the offer were awaiting my electronic signature. Unfortunately, I was at a wilderness camp, with 6% battery life left on my phone and minimal reception. There was no way I’d be able to sign my name.
Thankfully, I had an ally in this: my wife. She took my name when we got married, and so I had no problem with her signing all those documents in my stead. She managed to get hold of me through someone else’s phone. and I gave her the okay to use my name.
What struck me soon afterward is how God works similarly with us. We are allowed to use His name to confront the challenges around us. When we face obstacles we can’t overcome in our own strength, then we get to claim the power of El Shaddai, God Almighty. When we are lost and don’t know where to go, we can claim the guiding light of Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our Banner. When sickness and infirmity threaten to overwhelm us, we can claim restoration from Jehovah Rophe, the Lord Who Heals. And in all situations, we can call on the authority, power, and majesty of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
And yet, there are limits. If a submarine captain is not permitted to launch a nuclear missile attack without the President’s say-so, how much more carefully guarded is the power of the Name Above All Names? We are not permitted to use that name to glorify ourselves or to support our sinful desires. We may not claim it to bypass discipline God has set before us, nor to harm or control those whom God loves, nor for any purpose our human understanding sees as good, but which is not aligned with the infinitely wise purposes of God. There are limits in how we are permitted to use the name of God, not because it isn’t powerful enough to overcome certain obstacles, but because it is too powerful for us to use solely at our whim.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the use of Your glorious name. Because I can sign Your name to anything that challenges Your will for me, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish together. Help me to know Your Name better, so I can understand the power that is available to me. And keep me from magnifying my own human sinfulness by trying to apply Your holy name to it. I pray this all in Jesus’ name.
~ Cameron Miller