October 22, 2008

A New Name

Yesterday my language teacher, who has us call her "Maggie," started class as usual. We rushed in and set down for a dictation. For thirty minutes or so she will pronounce words and phrases in this beautiful, but difficult, language and we will try our best to write what she has spoken.

Afterward, I usually need about 10 minutes to calm down from the stress. And a few more minutes to remind myself that my worth as a person does not lie in how high my score is.

But on this day there was no break. Maggie, calmly proceeded to name us.

As I watched it happen no one else seemed to mind. Effortlessly, she looked at each of us and then wrote our new name on the chalkboard. Amy's name became the word for a particular kind of flower - it sounds very pretty. Christina's is now a combination of the words for "spring" and "hope," also very nice. Yet, as she turned to me, my spirit shifted into the gear you only use moments before an accident or some sort of trauma. And just as quickly as a car wreck, my name became Ru Jun.

She moved on to the next topic as if nothing had happened. But now I needed more than a break. I found myself looking out the window, miles away... No longer in Arkansas and no longer in this place. I couldn't pin down what was happening. It was so disturbing, yet so right all at the same time.

Then I realized that this was all part of His plan. My identity is being forever reshaped by this place and these people. There will be a whole city, a whole world of people who will never know me by the name Daniel. I was coming to grips with the fact that I will never be the same.

Then I began to remember how long ago, one of our fathers, Daniel, became Belteshazzar in a moment. In an instant, a totally pagan king renamed him at whim. How must he have felt? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were certainly not called as such in their precious homeland of Judah. Transformation is par for the course in the kingdom. To become who He wants me to be, I cannot remain as I am. - Something I once read in a book probably, or heard in a class, but now a truth I possess a little more deeply in my heart.

Then, just as quickly, Maggie brought me back to class with a new list of vocabulary words to learn.