A name is powerful. One of the biggest decisions we have as a new parent is to name a child. In that name is held all the hopes, dreams, and potential for our baby. It is their identity wrapped up in a word. For example, we named our daughter Elisha, which means “God is my salvation”. We chose that name for her because we wanted her to always know that truth. We named our son Lucas, which means “bringer of light”. He was called this as we believe this is his potential. That he will be one who brings God’s light to the world.
Potential is potent. It can be a driving force in our lives. Lying dormant at first, it is only with the gift of time and opportunity that it emerges. We all carry potential, from a tiny baby to a grandmother who has lived for many decades. It is not limited by gender, age, culture or religion.
It does not disappear once we become an adult. Yet, as we travel through the ups and downs of life, it can disappear along the way. Disappointments and distractions can cause us to forget its purpose in our lives.
No one person in the bible showcases this more than Moses.
From this side of time we gaze back through the telescope of biblical tradition and see a super hero. A man who rose to prominence as the rescuer of his people. In elevating our biblical heroes it is easy to believe that they were superior beings, leaving us to feel inferior and unable to achieve what they did.
If we stop and take a closer look at Moses’s story, we find that despite an advantageous start to life, he ended up a little side-tracked. Quickly losing his cape and tights the moment he committed murderer (Exodus 2:12), fleeing to the wilderness in fear (Exodus 3:1). At this point one could image his prospects where limited, his potential a distant past, that he would never be heard from again.
Thankfully, God did not give up on him. Nor does he on us. And that is important to remember.
Literally in the middle of nowhere, God seeks him out and offers Moses a new commission. Tapping into his potential that had been buried by shame and a shepherd’s coat.
What I love about this passage of scripture is the dialogue during this moment (Exodus 3:10-14). The Hebrew authors never tried to hide frailty and failure, instead, looking to show God’s grace and love unending to humanity. As God engages Moses we glimpse the value of humanity’s potential to God.
In the renowned encounter Moses questions his ability for the mission (v 10) saying “Who am I that I should go ?...” and God responds “I will be with you” (v12). Moses counters by asking what is the name he should call God, and it is right here that the wonder begins to unfold as God replies, “I AM WHO I AM (YAHWEH)…”(v14).
This is where God revealed himself to a man for the first time as YAHWEH. Biblical scholar Gordron J. Wenham said that this name means – “he will be” or “he will cause to be”.
Sound familiar? Potential is where possibility exists.
In this one conversation God reveals himself as The One who causes possibility to exist. He is the self-subsistent one. The One who has the power to instil potential over and over again. Where we lack, where we are lost, He gives his personal guarantee that He has the ability to get the job done. (3:13-22)
Moses’s story shows us the difference between self-driven potential, where failure is the end, and God-given potential, where failure is only the beginning.
What God knows, that we often don’t, is that when we walk out our potential the result is a way out. An ‘exodus’, not just for us but for the many others we lead from slavery and hardship to freedom and life.
In our God-ordained potential there is a double unveiling – God is seen and so are we. Exodus 14:31 tell us that “the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.” As we trust in God to call out our potential, there is fruit for Him and us. In His great benevolence He allows His brilliance to becomes ours.
Yahweh is the author of our potential, his very name declares that “He will cause to be”. It was no mistake that the first person he used this name with, is the one whose story is an example of how God can take a sinner and make him significant.
The words of Paul continue to affirm this truth into the New Testament through the work of Jesus on the Cross. He reminds us, in Philippians 1:6, that our potential is on God’s mind. What He has begun in us, the Holy Spirit will carry on until the end.
So remember, when the days of your potential seem lost, when you doubt the possibility He has promised, that His very name means “He will cause to be”. Dear one, believe that your potential is important to God.
”God began to do a good work in you. And I am sure that he will keep on doing it until he has finished it. He will keep on until the day Jesus Christ comes again.” Philippians 1:6