Summary: El Shaddai -- Mountain and Mother
We’re all familiar with the monthly magazine “Readers Digest,” amen? Besides stories and articles, it’s full of interesting little tidbits of information … some enlightening … some challenging … some funny. They usually appear at the end of articles as little slices of life that readers have submitted in the hopes of being published. One such tidbit is the story of little “Fruit Stand.”
When the 1960s ended, San Francisco’s Height-Ashbury District converted from a hippie enclave to upscale neighborhoods complete with high-rent apartments and condos … so the hippies left. If you want hippies to move, I guess you just need to raise the rent, amen? Many of the former “free-spirits” moved down the coast of California to Santa Cruz where they settled down and had children. As you can imagine, they didn’t give their children regular names … like Melissa or Bret. Oh, no. The people in the mountains around Santa Cruz grew accustomed to their children playing hacky-sack and frisbee with “Moon Beam,” “Aquarius,” “Saffron,” and “Arlo.” Eventually Moon Beam and Aquarius and Saffron and Arlo began attending public school.
That’s when the kindergarten teachers first met little “Fruit Stand.” On the first day of school, the parents were required to stick a name tag on their children to help the teachers learn the names of their new students. The parents would pin name tags on their little Meadow and Ziggy, kiss them good-bye, and then send them off to school on the bus for their first day of school. So it was for little “Fruit Stand.”
Although the teachers were used to some pretty unusual names, they found Fruit Stand’s name a bit odd … but they did their best to help Fruit Stand feel comfortable and fit in. “Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?” they offered. “Maybe you would like a snack, Fruit Stand?” By the end of the day, his name didn’t seem any stranger than “Sunflower” or “Purple Haze.”
At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. “Fruit Stand,” one of the teachers asked, “do you know which one is your bus?” He didn’t answer … which wasn’t strange because Fruit Stand hadn’t answered them all day. Lots of children are shy the first day of school, so the teachers didn’t really give it much thought.
The parents were not only required to pin a name tag on their children, they were also supposed to write the name of the child’s bus stop on the reverse side of their name tags. When Fruit Stand didn’t answer, the teacher flipped over Fruit Stand’s name tag and looked on the back … where she saw the word “Anthony.” As my little story of “Fruit Stand” demonstrates, names are really important … a name can make a difference, amen?
Several centuries before Christ came into our world, Alexander the Great came out of Macedonia and Greece to conquer the Mediterranean world. On one particular campaign, Alexander received word that one of his officers was continuously and seriously misbehaving. The soldier’s character was, in fact, becoming a stain on the reputation of the Grecian army. Alexander the Great summoned the officer to his tent. Upon the officer’s arrival, his commander, Alexander, asked him what his name was. “Alexander, Sir,” was the officer’s reply. Alexander the Great looked him in the eye and with a stern voice said: “Well, then … either change your behavior or change your name” (www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations).
God is like a diamond with an infinite number of facets. His many names are like windows that reveal His beautiful and amazing character and nature.
Elohim – Creator
Adonai – King of kings and Lord of Lords
Yahweh – Eternal and Ever-Changing
Jehovah Jireh – Our Everlasting Provider
Jehovah Shammah – The One Who is Always There
Jehovah Rapha – The One Who Heals or Repairs
Jehovah Sabaoth – The LORD of Hosts
Today we are going be learning a new name and get another glimpse into the greatness and beauty and majesty of our God. It’s “El Shaddai.”
It’s funny because most of you have probably heard that name … it’s the title of a song written by Michael Card and John Thompson and made famous by many great Christian artists like Amy Grant and Sandi Patty. In fact, it’s on page 123 of The United Methodist Hymnal and we’re going to sing it at the end of our worship service. “El Shaddai” … you’ve probably heard of the song … sung it or listened it to more than a few times … but what does the name “El Shaddai” actually mean?
Well … by now you know what the word “El” means, right? It’s the generic name for “God.” “El” speaks of God’s power … His ability to create and to sustain what He created. But “shaddai”? “Shaddai” is another one of those delightfully and divinely ambiguous words that I find so fascinating … like the names “Elohim” and “Adonai.” Scholars cannot agree on what the word “shaddai” means. It could mean “huge” and “mighty” because the word means “mountain.” Mountains are huge, impressive, amen? Mountains are mighty, right? “El Shaddai” … “God Mountain” … which could be interpreted to mean “God, the Mighty Mountain” or “God is a Mighty Mountain.” I don’t think that we should have any trouble calling God “El Shaddai” … the “Mighty Mountain,” am I right?