I started watching Mel Gibson's Apocalypto the other night and I was struck by one particular scene. In this scene, the character Jaguar Paw is fighting to save his village and his father from the Mayans who are carrying everyone off for human sacrifice. His attempt to free his father from his captors fails but only after a valiant effort. In his sorrow, as the two men are being bound, he whispers to his father that he is sorry. The enemy hears this, and realizing that this is a father and son situation, decides to hurt the son in retaliation for pain endured during the battle.
The villain then stands the father up in front of the bound and kneeling son. The father says to his son, "don't be afraid." The enemy then slits the throat of the father and leaves him to die in front of his son. After the father has died, the enemy kneels down and whispers in the son's ear, "Almost. That is your new name, Almost." He is saying, "you almost saved him but didn't, you almost came through but you failed, almost but not quite is the story of your life."
If this isn't a picture of our spiritual life I don't know what is. We are beloved sons of the father. In fact, as Jaguar Paw was probably named for something his father saw in him, we too have a name given to us by God. We may know this name or we may not but regardless we have a special name given to us by Our Father. "To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it." (Revelation 2:17)
However, the devil, the Father of lies, seeks to give us a new name too. He is always mocking God. When we fail, when we falter, when we despair he is there in an instant whispering a new name in our ear. These names given to us often haunt us all of our days. We can even begin to believe that it is our true name.
I can think of a few instances in my life where the devil has whispered a new name and now I struggle to cast that name off. These names may be hard for you, the reader, to understand but they are names I have been given nonetheless. The first of these names would be "shut up". Someone I love very dearly said this to me when I was about 5 or 6 and the devil was there in an instant, "shut up, yes, that is your new name. keep your mouth shut. no one wants to hear what you have to say. whatever it is, it's not important. shut up." I have struggled and continue to struggle with this name. There is a part of me that wants to keep everything inside and never speak again because the enemy told me that my name is Shut Up.
The other name, one among many now that I think of it, is related to the first "bad idea." When I was younger I used to have all of these ideas for go-carts, forts, etc., but no one would ever help me see them through, no one had the time but the devil told me it was my fault, "they have the time, your ideas are just stupid. don't share them because no one cares. you're an idea guy but all of your ideas are worthless. you are all alone so any idea you do have you will have to make it happen yourself." All of these whisperings could be new names in fact but Bad Idea was the one that stuck. There is a part of me that has so many ideas, many of them incredible, but I don't share them, rather, I hide them thinking they are bad.
The new name or names given to us by the enemy cast a sort of spell upon us. We see as in a fog and begin to live as though those names were our true name. They are not! God has given us a name and we must ask him what it is. He will tell us our true name, and if we embrace and believe that name, we will be set free from the shackles of the false names given to us. But it won't be easy, again, from the book of Revelation, "To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it."
To him who conquers....that is the key. We must do battle. We must conquer. We must win back our hearts and God will reveal that new name. Is it really possible? Will God really come through and help me to cast off these false names? Yes, but we have to be willing to engage. We have to do battle because the enemy is not going to let go of your heart easily. The battle begins with prayer, self-sacrifice, penance, study, the sacraments, and rejecting "all his empty promises".
We cannot agree with the enemies whisperings. When he calls you by your false name you cannot agree with it. You must reject it, "I will not shut up when God needs me to talk. I will not keep my ideas to myself when my family depends on that creativity."
Like Jaguar Paw you have a real name given to you by your father. Find it and you will find your heart and purpose. Like the Mayans in the movie, the devil is after your heart and even now has his filthy hands upon it. Do battle, receive your true name, and rescue your heart.