God with Us

In Act-II, Scene-II of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare was implying that who a person is is far more important than what they're called.
Through Biblical authors, though, God put a great deal of emphasis on giving names to things.
Consider the first documented action of Adam, in Genesis 2:23:
“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”
Adam named Eve, placing an identity into her. During our sermon series "The Good Father," our children learned about several of the names given God in the Bible. In our current series, we are learning about Jesus through the eyes of the four Gospel-writers. Sunday morning, Jurie focused on the passage in Matthew 16 where Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" At some point, Jurie said the words, "Jesus, name above every name." Ever since then, I have been singing "Jesus, Name Above All Names," by Naida Hearn, in the back of my mind. Here are the lyrics:
Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

A Vision

At the end of Jurie's sermon, he asked us to answer the "Who do you say I am?" question for ourselves. One of the first names given Jesus in the New Testament is "Emmanuel," meaning "God is with us." This week, as I've been humming this song, I've been getting caught on the name Emmanuel. It would be my first answer to Jesus' question.
A few years ago, I was going through a really dark time. I was overworked, over-stressed, over-tired, and physically hurting. I frequently longed for a true respite -- for peace that surpasses understanding. One morning, I was in that after-the-alarm-but-before-waking-up state. I had a dream, or a vision, that I was walking along a footpath, and Jesus was walking alongside me. I was talking with Him about suffering, but for a lot of the time, we were both silent. I was just dwelling in the peace His presence exudes. As the light started coming in the windows of my bedroom and I started the climb toward waking up, I panicked. "NO, please, I don't want to go. I don't want to wake up. I want to stay here with You!" 
Jesus just looked at me with so much compassion and said, "No no, it's alright! You're not leaving me; I'm coming with you!"
I've never been prone to visions, but when I finally woke up, I knew that that conversation was as real as any I'd ever had. I felt like a new person. My trials hadn't left me, but my outlook had shifted. I just sat and basked in the love and presence of Jesus. His gentle reminder that He is right here with me was so well-timed and gave me so much peace, I knew I could face that day and the days to come.

God is With Us

Ever since that morning, I've often been reminded of the phrase "God is with us." Jesus lived His life here on earth after having left Heaven. Jesus got hungry and thirsty. He worked hard as a carpenter, and then He went on a mission for years... where He was homeless, poor, and often rejected. Jesus came to earth to live my life and suffer the death I deserved. He can relate when I tell Him of my suffering. And now, He is right hereholding me up and rejoicing or crying with me. This is my Jesus.

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