It is winter. The dark comes too soon, and the cold surrounds, and I struggle to hold fast to joy. The storms that blew in with this season have been hard. They don’t bring snow, or rain, or wind, but still they are bitter and they sting. I watch as my daughter’s heart breaks; I see a son struggling against forces that would destroy him if it were possible. Every single day the storm rushes in—torrential, beating down, thundering, and I am worn and weary from the pounding. And why are people so cold?
The Psalmist describes a storm-filled wind with power to lift up the waves, how “they mount up to the [heavens]” and crash down again to the deep, and the people, “how their soul . . . [melts] because of trouble,” and I wonder if He knows my life (Psalm 107:26). How we “reel to and fro,” how we are “at [our] wits’ end” (v. 27). They cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and we do too, and the Lord brings them out of their distress, to “their desired haven,” and it is quiet there (v. 30). I can’t help but wonder when we will find ours.
It is the Sabbath, and I sit on my pew, heart heavy and storm raging. In the prayer over the bread I am reminded that I have covenanted to take His name, and my soul is caught up in the wondering about this. Which name? the Spirit whispers to me. Which name should you take? I have never thought of it like this before. The boys in their white shirts with hair combed over, wearing Sunday shoes pulled on over basketball socks, those boys walk through the congregation passing the bread, and I turn to the Bible Dictionary, to the names of Christ. Which one?
Emmanuel. Mighty One. Carpenter. The Light. The Lord from Heaven. I know these names, but one stands out as different from the rest. Shiloh. I don’t know this name. I search the meaning and I learn that in Hebrew the name means tranquil. It is exactly what I need, in the midst of this storm raging. I decide that for this week, this is the name I will take upon me. Shiloh. I read the verses in Genesis 49:10, how Shiloh will come, and I trust He will. Every single day, when the storm pushes in, when I am drowning, I whisper the name, Shiloh, and there is peace. The stilling of the storm. The promise of a quiet haven to come.
As the week continues I study the words Shiloh, tranquil, and peace. I find myself drawn over and over again to the words of Paul in the New Testament because I have discovered a pattern there: whenever Paul speaks of peace, he speaks of grace. Over thirty times I see the words together. They accompany each other, and I can’t help but wonder why. What did Paul know about the synergy of peace and grace? I remember the two trees drawn on the white piece of paper earlier, the fruit that is labeled there, and I see peace and grace hanging from the branches. They are companion fruits of Christ, and perhaps the one is made complete in the other. And would that be true about charity, and hope, and rest, and joy? Does grace complete whatever it is companion to?
I spend the whole week studying the name I took during the sacrament, until I know it so well it becomes a part of me. The storm still surrounds, but Shiloh brings peace. And now I can’t wait for the sacrament to come again. I wonder, Which name will I take? Which name will become part of me this next week?
And which name will you take?
Maybe you will place a piece of paper in your scriptures, just there, by your Bible Dictionary, next to the names of Christ. Perhaps it will become a journal of your weeks, and your names, and your storms, and His grace.
It is Sunday, and the boys walk through the pews, and the storms continue to rage, and I turn again to the Bible Dictionary. To the names of Christ. I read through the list slowly. Which name? There are so many to choose from, and as I read, an important truth settles itself into my heart. All those names? That is what grace looks like.
Every name I choose to take becomes a manifestation of His grace, and I am no longer afraid of the storm rolling in. I will take His name, and I will hope, and find peace in the promise of a quiet haven ahead.