As we read through the Bible we see this as a recurring theme that God doesn’t do things the way we would think of as normal. Consider the story of Abraham. God had made a covenant with Abraham that He was going to make him the father of many nations, but Abraham was getting along in years and he was wondering when this fathering was going to take place. Abraham had even tried to help God out by taking things into his own hands and having a child with a slave instead of with his wife. But God had a different plan: “God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her." Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year." When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him. Genesis 17:15-22
So here’s another example of God changing people’s names when He uses them. A lot of times the names that are changed have a new meaning which relates to the change that God has provided. This is a firm reminder to the person who was changed that they were changed and that God is the One who changed them.
This naming of people also takes us back to new birth, to naming a baby. As a couple goes through the pre-baby phase the choosing of a name is usually a fun activity, but it can be met with some anxiety given family pressures and all. Have you ever thought about changing your name from the one your parent’s gave you? I always thought it would be very cool to be called Rocky – very rough, macho – cool. But I’m not sure if Rocky is a given name or if it’s short for something – maybe Rockford? If your given name is Rockford you’d better start looking for a nick name. But what God does is to change the person so much that their original name doesn’t work for them anymore.
So how does Abraham respond to the good news God has just given him about his new son? He fell facedown, which I think is generally a good practice when talking to God, and he laughs, which I think is generally NOT a good practice when talking to God. He laughs! Why does he laugh? Does Abraham doubt God? I don’t think so. Maybe he’s thinking ahead when Isaac is playing high school football and his team mates point to his parents in the bleachers and say, “Dude, is that your dad? He’s like 120 years old or something.” Or maybe he’s thinking about how Sarah will look in maternity clothes and orthopedic shoes. Or maybe he’s just really happy thinking about how God is going to bless him. Or maybe he’s thinking that God could have chosen a more traditional way of doing this.
God didn't use normal. God didn't choose normal.