BY AMY WALTON |
“For God so loved Amy, that He gave His only begotten Son, that if Amy believes in him, she will not perish but have everlasting life.”
You may be thinking, “What? That sounds like John 3:16, but something’s not right.”
Actually, everything IS right.
This well-known verse declares that God loved the world and that those who believe in Him will not die but will live forever. Logic dictates that since you and I are part of this world, then we are loved by God. I also believe in Jesus, His Son, so I will live forever. Therefore, in paraphrasing and making this verse personal, I can insert my name.
When I was growing up in Mayodan Moravian Church, one of my favorite Sunday School teachers had a long-standing tradition known as “Strings of Pearls,” shiny red ribbons that held white paper symbols in various shapes. These symbols were motivators for us to learn certain Bible verses and passages such as the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23. Each time I memorized a specific verse or verses, I stood in class and recited it. If I did well, a paper symbol representing that verse was added to my ribbon. Those Strings of Pearls became a bit competitive, which nudged my friends and me to learn some scripture!
Fast forward a few decades, and one day I found myself reading this familiar verse again in a study of John’s Gospel. For the first time in my life, it occurred to me—as in deep down in my bones—that this verse wasn’t just about the whole wide world.
It was also about me.
So I reread it very slowly, inserting my name in place of “world.”
Yes, I am in the Holy Scriptures. So are you.
For over three decades I’ve opened my Bible nearly every day to learn and to hear what God is revealing to me. And I’ve recently begun plopping my divinely created and redeemed self in the middle of His Word.
Names are special, powerful. Baby name books and websites abound for expectant parents searching for the perfect name for their child. Store clerks wear name tags, and if you politely refer to them by their names, you might be surprised how well they treat you. Family monikers can last throughout a person’s life and even stick with him professionally. Take Eldrick Tont Woods, for example. We know him as Tiger.
Names have an impact. Many of us heard our first and middle names yelled by our parents when we misbehaved as children. When Amy became “Amy Maureen,” spoken by my sweet mother as she placed her hands on her hips, I knew I was in deep trouble!
So how can we—God’s children— place ourselves in His revelatory Word to really bring it alive for us, making it our prayer back to Him on a daily basis?
One way is to simply insert our names in the place of pronouns or in front of a direct command or encouragement, especially in the Gospels and the letters of Paul and other New Testament authors. This is what I do in a journaling technique I created for myself. It’s been a very effective tool to help me soak in scripture, letting it marinate in my bones.
I start by writing the verse as it’s written in my Bible. I then rewrite it and use my name in lieu of a pronoun or in front of a command.
Here are a couple of examples:
1. Write and say the verse.
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your heavenly Father.
2. Write or say the verse again, but place your name in place of the pronouns.
Just so, _____’s light must shine before others, that they may see ______’s good deeds and glorify their heavenly Father.
3. Pray back the verse or verses to the Lord in your own words. An example of praying back the above verse might look like this:
Father, I know my light must shine before others. The light of Christ shining through me, in my words and in my deeds, could lead them to You. Let your light shine through me so that all who see it may come to know their true purpose in life: To glorify You. Amen.
1. Write and say the verse.
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.
2. Write and say the verse again, inserting your name: ______ will bless the Lord at all times. Praise shall be always in _____’s mouth.
3. Pray the verse back to God in your own words:
Heavenly Father, I seek to bless you at all times, to let praises flow from my mouth. Forgive the many times I have allowed unclean words to tear others down and the contempt with which I’ve often spoken. May I gush forth praise to you through every word that leaves my mouth. Amen
As you read scripture, ask, “Where am I in this? How can I make this personal to really hear God’s voice? Where can I insert my name?”
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, telling the people of Israel, “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.” (Isaiah 43:1, The Message)
He continues to call our names each and every day through His Word. May we insert ourselves throughout his revelatory gift to us, and may this help us always live for Him.
About the author
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, certified Christian life coach, speaker, and writer who has lived in coastal Virginia for nearly 30 years. A native of Mayodan, North Carolina, she was baptized, confirmed, and raised in Mayodan Moravian Church, where she remains an Associate Member. Connect with her at www.amy-walton.com or