name: discovering where your true identity lies

name - discovering where your true identity lies - id badge @poetryjoy.com

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually. It matters. Most parents spend a long time choosing their offspring’s name/s, although some of us might wish we didn’t have the one we ended up with.

I came into the world earlier than expected, born to parents who could barely agree on anything. Legend has it that my father simply pointed to the two tiny scraps in incubators and named us as he saw fit. My sister was swiftly named after stars and my name became a diminutive of my mother’s.

It felt like I needed to be like her, at least a little as I grew up, but we were chalk and cheese. So it wasn’t until I came to faith in Christ in my teens that I saw any merit in my name. It was in the Bible, after all, and a fruit of the Spirit no less! 🙂

Yet the name that means the most to me is that of Jesus, who has many titles and attributes as well. Jesus is the Name above all names. His is the name we whisper in prayer and seek out in anguished despair. Our commission as believers is to make the name of Jesus known to others as we demonstrate His mercy, grace and love.

name - Our commission as believers quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I have a light

I have a light
given to me from birth
recessed in dark
it was sparked by holy love
making a home in my heart

I have a light
flowing out of my spirit
it’s often dim
or at least I cannot see
how it might shine out of me

I have a light
it flickers when the wind blows
it’s barely alive
but a mere candlewick
you can hardly tell it’s lit

I have a light
which God wants me to let shine
just as it is
because he fuels the flame
so his name can be proclaimed

I have a light
glowing on the inside
burning bright
revealing Christ within
and how I might live for him
© joylenton

name - candle flame - I have a light poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

May you take hope from knowing you are more than your name suggests, more than your weakness or illness, and more than the spurious names or labels others have identified you as or you have spoken over yourself.

You and I are more than society says we are because our true identity rests in being wholly beloved and precious children of God.  And we are called to be His disciples, acting as a healing gift of salt and light to a needy world.

I’m honoured to be adding my poem to the five-minute-friday community posts as we write out our thoughts on this week’s word prompt “name.” You are welcome to join us here and read the great variety of posts being shared. 

Not all of us have had perfect parenting or happy families. Solo artist (and previously lead singer for Creed) Scott Stapp’s story is a painful one, but as he shares in the song below, he is determined to make things different for his own son, because God has turned his life around. That’s the hope for all of us as we live out our redemptive stories here.

inside: how Ash Wednesday reminds us of God’s grace

inside - Ash Wednesday - smudge on forehead @poetryjoy.com

As I considered how to start this season of Lent, what struck me forcibly was the symbolism of Ash Wednesday, which is where we begin. Even though my home church doesn’t participate in Lenten practices, I see the value in them. A smudge of Palm Sunday’s ash pressed on the forehead is a visible and powerful reminder of why Jesus came to earth.

I’m truly grateful to have my sin largely concealed on the inside. It’s not always evident to those who know me or strangers who might come across me. Although much is revealed in our behaviour. Because our actions and words often speak for themselves. We can become adept at concealing our inner darkness, of course, but it’s a relief that the worst of us is known only to God. 😏

Safely tucked inside

What if God asked us to dare to wear
our sin, not like a hidden, dark, secret
stain within, but on the outside of us
instead, where it would be made visible
to all—would it bleed scarlet-red?

Or might we resemble bodily black-rimmed
coal miners, with thick, choking clouds of
dust ingrained deep into their skin, which
won’t wash off under the tap, rather
like an indelible tattoo, perhaps?

Or splattered in splotches, like scars,
as if we were pigs rolling around in mud,
up to our ears and all. Or battered, brawny
rugby players after a match, before we
went for our cleansing hot bath.

Maybe it’s better how it is now,
with a mere smudge gracing our
foreheads, and all the rest safely
tucked inside our souls, where we
keep the dross God only knows.
©joylenton

inside - safely tucked inside poem excerpt - coal miners (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

We can delude ourselves into thinking we are better than we are. Or we can become deceived into believing nothing good resides within at all. The truth is a mixture of them both. Left to our own devices, we are fallen and lost. But God… picks us up, heals, redeems and restores our souls, calls us His precious Beloved and makes His home in our hearts.

That’s what Easter is all about. A Divine exchange takes place. Our filthy rags for His royal robe of righteousness. Our sin for His grace. Our pain for His peace. Our tears for His oil of joy. God excels in bringing beauty out of ashes. He isn’t fazed by our brokenness because He alone can piece us back together. God’s holy glue makes us better than before, with a gradual sanctification process as we surrender our lives to Him.

“To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3 TLB

one: encouraging incidences of the number one

one _ encouraging incidences of the number one - magpie on the edge (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

So many of us mistakenly think that our lives don’t amount to much. We wonder if we make any mark on the world at all, or if we simply exist as lost and invisible souls. No more than a fleeting mist or blip in the universe.

Can I encourage you today, my friend? Can I help you to see past the easily swallowed lies of the enemy? Because the holy truth you need to hold on to is that you are infinitely important and precious. Yes, you really are. Despite what your unhappy upbringing, challenging circumstances or painful past might be saying to you, you are very much loved and wanted by God.

The mathematics of heaven are totally different to the arithmetic of earth. Here, one as a number seems too small, too insignificant to count. But in heaven? One person, one act or thought becomes highly significant in God’s economy.

one - Mother Teresa quote - “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” @poetryjoy.com

Here’s what I have discovered:

  • A word of encouragement can turn a day, if not a life around.
  • A whispered prayer can summon angels, demolish evil strongholds, heal and bless souls.
  • A thoughtful act can alter a person’s perspective for life.
  • A kind deed has the power to sow kindness seeds in others.
  • A single person can become a precursor for change.
  • A solo individual is never as alone as they may feel.

Incidences of the number one

We have one solo magpie,
one solitary bird,
quite happy in his loneliness

as he sits upon the tiles,
gracing our neighbour’s rooftop
edge with his dancing moves.

And we have one small child,
who lives across the street from

us, whose smiles and constant
chatter are like joy personified.

We also have one precious grandson in
our lives, who gives us deep soul delight.

And there’s far more than one chance to live
aright in this one wild and glorious life.

But most of all, I am grateful to know
the One who holds the world within his
hands, who spins planets and stars and

pours his grace out on one and all, with
joyous abundance and exuberance.

For he spreads his arms cruciform-wide
to encompass every nation and tribe.

And he treats each and every one of us
as his precious, esteemed and redeemed
child – one who is unconditionally loved.
© joylenton

We may feel inadequate and small but we can still have an influence and make a difference in the lives of others. Don’t let thoughts of lack deter you from pressing forward in life and faith. You count. 

I’m grateful to be sharing my poetic thoughts with the fabulous five-minute-friday community today. Just click here to join us there. 🙂 

one - Mother Teresa quote _We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop._ @poetryjoy.com