Though I have heard and love His many names, I still do not know them all and am entirely dumbstruck when He introduces Himself to me in yet a new and specific way right when I need it. How about that? My friend and Rescuer of almost twenty years, still showing up brand new like I’ve never had ears opened before. I met God, His name Jehovah Nissi, for the first time at just the perfect time in my life.
Our family’s lives were yet again in boxes. Added another baby and another few addresses and another trans-Pacific trek to our story (it gets less novel and romantic every time, especially when our babies hit the high notes of their temper tantrums right when we’re going through international customs, every time.) Our hearts and possessions and career swinging unsteadily, suspended between Japan and America. We moved into another rental a week before our family of four flew to Shizuoka, Japan, for another summer of serving and seeking about a long-term career.
We had been back and forth since 2006 when my husband went for the first time as a single man, again in 2008 as a wide-eyed brand newly-married couple, in 2010 for a three year assignment and brought our first baby into the world. When we left after completing that assignment, we stuck a pin in our dreams and passports while I frantically tried to nurse depression and pull myself up by my bootstraps.
One degree of shame to the next, I carved in stone and tears my identity as a failure and disappointment. I spoke those words over myself so many times that it tattooed the belief right into my soul. I became more comfortable wearing those names than any of the blood-bought truths about being His beloved.
As I readied my heart to board the plane to return to my dearly loved land, I knew I couldn’t go seeking security from people. Nothing quite drains the love-tank from people like needing them to confirm my value. While I was asking God to do a healing and restoring work in my heart, I knew my friends there would be unable to fill the role of giving me closure and heart security. I read these words from Charles Spurgeon while I was in the throes of preparing to depart:
“Are you fighting with the adversary today? Are Satan, the world, and the flesh, all against you? Be not discouraged nor dismayed. Fight on! For God Himself is with you; Jehovah Nissi is your banner… Fear not, you shall overcome, for who can defeat Omnipotence? Fight on, ‘looking unto Jesus;’ and though long and stern be the conflict, sweet will be the victory, and glorious the promised reward.”
God introduced Himself to me as Jehovah Nissi, the Lord is my banner, and there my victory was claimed. As an army marches into battle under the banner of who they fight for, so I will march into a life under the banner of my God. And He has already claimed victory. The burden of redefining myself was lifted and I. Was. Free. Free to love people, free to ask hard questions, free to grieve and laugh and do hard things.
The name comes from when God fought against Israel’s enemies, the Amalekites. Joshua and army down below waging battle, Moses in prayer battle above on a hill, and they fought. As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel prevailed. But arms up high wears a man out and lowering them for a rest meant the enemies were prevailing. So Aaron and Hur propped Moses up on a rock and held his arms up for him. This is how God defeated the Amalekites. To commemorate the victory and God’s strong name, they built Him an altar and we see His name.
“And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying, ‘A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’” Exodus 17:15-16
Matthew Henry comments that this name, “probably refers to the lifting up of the rod of God as a banner in this action. The presence and power of Jehovah were the banner under which they enlisted, by which they were animated and kept together, and therefore which they erected in the day of their triumph.”
My sisters, intense and varied are your battles, aren’t they? They feel endless and despair is just creeping around the corner to swallow your heart. Our enemies aren’t always enemy nations these days, but the brokenness of our sin-wrecked world. In the strong name of Jesus, in His power that raised Him from the dead, you are enlisted in the winning side. Victory in Christ is ours, we are just waiting to collect the spoils of battle.
“Fight on, ‘looking unto Jesus;’ and though long and stern be the conflict, sweet will be the victory, and glorious the promised reward,” Charles Spurgeon.