Scripture: Genesis 32:22-30
My full given name is “Obadiah Zarephath Ballinger”. It barely fits on a driver’s license. When we had to put our names at the top of our papers in elementary school, I was always the last person done. I didn’t know how to spell my middle name for the longest time, so I used to spell it “Zero-path”.
To know my name is to very quickly know something of the story of my life. Because as soon as I tell someone my name, questions or comments arise, and the story of its origin generally comes out. Some of you know that I was born and raised in a cult. I got my name from the cult leader. Like many of the other children I grew up with, my name came from where this man’s finger landed at random in the Bible. Whatever page it landed on, parents were told that was God’s choice for a newborn’s name. And here’s the thing: despite all the other malarkey of the cult,
I believe that there might have been a divine hand in my name. Because Obadiah means “servant of God”–my vocation named before I could ever have chosen it for myself. The name “Obadiah” holds my history and my identity in just one word.