Shekinah Pettway | 18
Shekinah is my name. Its meaning is my reality, who I strive to be, and what The Lord requires of me.
What does your name mean to you? Or better yet, how is the meaning of your name reflected in the way that you live? My name, Shekinah, is a word with Semitic roots originating from the dwelling, settling, and inhabiting of the Lord’s Divine Presence. The Shekinah encompasses deep spiritual meaning, as it is an expression of the glory and presence of God. It not only represents God’s presence, but His presence manifested by intense light. Additionally, the word for Tabernacle, mishkan, the dwelling place of God’s people and God’s presence, is a derivative of the same root for Shekinah. The Shekinah is often referenced when it manifests in the Tabernacle.
Despite its biblical implications, the Shekinah is not found directly in the Bible, but is alluded to in several places in which God is speaking and revealing Himself to people such as Moses. Here, Moses encounters The Shekinah through a burning bush on Mount Horeb:
“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God” (Exodus 3:1-6).
God reveals Himself in the form of theophany, the appearance of God in a form that is visible to man. God’s revelation is miraculous, allowing Moses to have a defining experience in which he is able to actually experience the glory of God. God’s glory is so omnipotent that it resides on holy ground, a place where Moses was not permitted to enter. Understanding this, Moses humbles and submits himself to The Lord, stating “Here I am”. With this proclamation, Moses prepares himself to be transformed by God’s glory, allowing God to meet him where he is. Moses gets ready to hear what the Lord needs to say to him in order to lead the people of Israel into righteousness. Moses’ attitude here should serve as an example to all believers. His meekness in his encounter with the Lord’s presence is ideal, as he understood that in order to be obedient to God’s commands he had to submit to His presence.
My name, Shekinah, serves as a natural conviction to me, as I am challenged to honor and respect a similar declaration to that of Moses, stating, “Here I am” to God’s will for my life. Certainly, I have not been given the responsibility to lead the people of Israel, like Moses, but God has called me to be a leader in the realms that have arisen for me at Bowdoin College. Those include participating in the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin, engaging in my academic pursuits, running on the Bowdoin Track and Field team, serving as a tour guide for the college, and singing in an acapella group at the college. Interestingly, my parents’ decision to name me Shekinah was based on an epiphany that my mother had, in which she felt led to name me Shekinah based on the leadership role she assumed that I would embody to my siblings, my colleagues, and my peers. My daily prayer is that I will live a life that exemplifies the meaning of my name, allowing others to see that in order to live a life that is fully committed to Him you must humbly acknowledge His presence and let Him meet you where you are. I have noticed this to be evident in my life especially in times of hardship, in which I felt that my freedom to do what I desired was limited. Yet, God has shown me that my idea of freedom is not His idea of freedom. He does His greatest work during times of hardship, when it is best to experience His presence and let Him meet you where you are.
Today, you can decide whether you will make the change that is necessary for you to encounter the presence of the Lord. Will you allow Him to meet you where you are so that He can use the gifts He has given you to bring Him glory?
Shekinah Pettway, Bowdoin Class of 2018. French, Pre-Med. Baldwin NY.
Shekinah tells the truth as it is – straight-up and with a tinge of humor.