Is it Christmas? But it’s August…
Here I am in the midst of Oregon’s 2013 record-breaking heat wave, and I’m hearing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus as I hug my first copy of my new book Living in the Names of God. Handel’s Messiah provides the perfect musical backdrop for this new book about His Majesty and Me – a book about 18 Old Testament names of God that find their fulfillment in the New Testament’s Messiah, Jesus Christ.
But don’t get scared, Living in the Names of God, is not a heavy-duty book on theology. It’s God’s names and attributes wrapped in autobiography stories about how God has shown up and saved my day again and again for the past twenty years.
“How did I pick the topic?” a friend asked. My answer, “It picked me.” Read Chapter 1 His Majesty and Me: How My Love Affair Began below and see how God met me, a woman, a wife, a mom, a grandma, an individual walking on artificial limbs or wheeling in my wheelchair.
His Majesty and Me
How My Love Affair Began
I will forever remember the Saturday morning in autumn that began with a loud crash followed by an agonizing ouch. You ask me, “Judy, what hurt?”
Actually, my husband David was the one who was hurting when he and his roaring chainsaw fell fifteen feet off a ladder onto our driveway’s blacktop. Come to find out his anklebone was shattered into seventy pieces while doing my honey-do list. His words to the ER nurse who greeted the ambulance were: “You have to save my leg; my wife has none.” She dismissed it as delirium.
David’s accident knocked me off my feet, or more accurately, knocked me off my stumps. Weren’t his legs mine too? Didn’t I, a double amputee walking on artificial limbs, rely on his strong legs for parenting our three children and for balancing our busy household?
That was the year David and I tied for the World’s Most Helpless title as my ordered life toppled during his two-week hospitalization, three surgeries and months of recovery. I changed my name from Judy to Job as one thing after another went kaput. First David’s leg, then the transmission problems on my specially-adapted minivan. Then a broken oven which no repairman could fix with Thanksgiving only three weeks away. Then the worst case of bark beetle the local arborist had ever seen infesting our thirteen sky high Monterey pines. Plus – not good timing – the accident came two days before a mega-remodel on our home was to begin. And, oh, I’d just begun my first term as co-president of our daughters’ school’s PTA.
Unable to get beyond the robotical performance of the necessities, I squeezed out, “God, this is way too BIG! I’ll take all the help You can muster. Send the troops.” Enter Kay Arthur’s book, Lord, I Want to Know You, a devotional study of the names of God.1 First I met El Shaddai, who promised to replace my too little with His so big. His strength met my weakness and carried me across each day’s finish line.
Everyone I encountered – doctors for my husband and doctors for trees, construction workers at our home, the auto and appliance repairmen – heard my daily accounts of a God Who Cares About Every Detail of Our Lives. No one asked questions when a hope-bearing name plaque inscribed with El Shaddai replaced a battle weary Squiers above the front door.
Along with El Shaddai, other Hebrew names of God became household words. El Elyon, the Most High God, was my newfound power source who carried me on His shoulders. Jehovah Raah (Raah! Raah!) became my Shepherd Cheerleader. Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides, was true to His word, as He more than provided for our family’s daily needs. God faithfully came to my rescue and downed my giants with a single blow.
Thanks to David’s blessed accident, God showed up on my doorstep. (Actually, He was always there, but I missed seeing Him because I believed the myth that I could handle life on my own.) His troops consisted of eighteen Hebrew names of God, which having met men of old at their point of need now kept their promise to meet me.
No longer just a concept, God became a living presence, a family member, my constant companion every step of the way. What Tim Hansel explains in his book, You Gotta Keep Dancing, describes what happened to me. “The goal in this life we call Christian is that all of our theology become biography.”2 Most definitely the God of my theology intercepted my life and entered my biography. My cry for help was heard by our Almighty God who showed up with His troops and more.
Living in the names of God, what does it look like? My four-year-old granddaughter Brianna provided the answer one morning while her mom was driving her to preschool.
Out of the blue, Brianna asked,
“Mom, Where is God?”
“In heaven,” her mom answered.
“No, He’s sitting in the car
right next to you,” Brianna said.
“Hi God, how are You?” her mom replied.
To which Brianna commented,
“He says He loves you.”*
You just read the introduction, which is followed by eighteen more chapters, one for each of God’s Hebrew names. You’ll learn what the name means, something about its context in Scripture and you’ll discover how knowing God through that name can transform your everyday life. For example: Do you feel inadequate for life’s challenges? Let me introduce you to El Shaddai, the God whose supply exceeds life’s demands. Do you keep coming up short? Meet El Elyon – the God who gives height and dignity to our low places. Are you overcome with that sinking feeling? Then it’s time you make the acquaintance of Adonai Tsuri – the Rock-Solid God who makes us unshakeable.
Soon to follow will be a Bible Study (coming early 2014) for those who want to go deeper. I was working on it recently while on an Alaskan cruise with our family.
My prayer is that you, the reader of Living in the Names of God will experience your own love affair with our unfathomable God whose many names will help you begin to fathom the depths of His person. As you learn His titles, may you begin to recognize His presence in new ways – in songs on Sunday mornings, in daily events and in life’s drama. Expect to hear yourself utter worshipful whoops, “It’s You, Lord.”
I welcome your feedback and look forward to hearing which of God’s names are your favorites and how He, through one name or another, has shown up in your own story. Seeing the Lord in our every day evokes Glory-Hallelujahs, so let’s join our voices together no matter what month it is.
Living in the Names of God
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“Power comes to its full strength in weakness, the Bible says, and Judy makes that truth visible. She lives her life in and through her Lord and His many names.”
– Elisabeth Elliot Gren, Author & Speaker
*Excerpted from Living in the Names of God by Judy Squier Copyright © 2013 by Judy Squier. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.