Hello, My Name Is…
When I was in middle school I couldn’t stand it when people used my middle name. In fact, I had a select few friends that would call me by my middle name just to get on my last nerve. Ironically, they’re the same few friends from middle and high school that I actually still talk to now and again. I’m not sure why I didn’t like my middle name. Maybe it was just the phonetics of it, but I honestly love my middle name now. Not enough to have everyone call me by my middle name, mind you, but I love what it stands for. I was given my middle name, Richelle, after my dad, Richard (as you already know I am very close with my dad).
I’ve known a few people who have changed their name a number of times – either from their parents divorcing and possibly remarrying or because they just liked a different name more. But the thing that I’ve been realizing lately is how important names are. I heard a conversation a few months ago about how names hardly mean anything today. Not the use of a name, but the meaning of a name. Whenever you see someone given a name throughout Scripture it was given to them because of the meaning. Abraham didn’t get his name changed by God simply because either one of them thought it sounded cooler in the song “Father Abraham”. Abraham got his new name after God showed up in his life and changed his sole identity and purpose. Do you actually live up to your name? My first name means noble or truthful, and while I may intermittently live up to that, I can’t always sit back and say that those things define who I am.
The thing about a name is that it identifies us and gives us significance. The trees in the forest don’t have names, because there’s nothing more to them than the fact that they’re a tree. Blades of grass don’t have names because they’re just grass. But you and I, we have names! And more importantly than the name given to us by our parents, we have a name given to us by our heavenly Father. We hold significance and meaning because of that.
Something that’s really been tugging at my heart these past few months goes the other way around: how we identify God. It hit me a while back that more times than not we simply call God, God. What sets apart God from any other god, purely in that name, other than a capital G? If God was mentioned in everyday conversation, John Doe might not know if you’re talking about God or one of the hundreds of other false gods out there. Why don’t we use God’s name more? He’s got plenty and each one has a theological reason behind it. Take Yahweh, for example. It simply means I Am. I won’t go into the details of what that implies here, but I find it so neat! That name was so sacred when penning the manuscripts that make up today’s Bible that the writers had to use a different pen and ink because it was considered so holy. He is also Alpha and Omega. He is the begging and end; He defines time and controls time. The list of names seems endless.
What if instead of only calling God a handful of names (i.e. God, Father, Jesus, Savior) we started using any number of His names listed in Scripture that identify who He is? I said before that a name identifies and gives significance. I honestly believe that the more we get into the practice of using many of God’s names, the more we will identify with Him and we will realize the significance of those characteristics in the world and in our lives. Write His names. Pray His names. Use His names in youth lessons and talks. Get into the practice of really knowing who Yahweh is.
I have one last point. Yesterday I went to get my driver’s license switched over to PA. At first I was honestly missing Virginia’s DMV and the process that they have set up. It seems so much more professional and seamless dealing with registration and things there. One thing did stand out positively to me, however. As I waited in line at the Photo Center to get my license, I couldn’t help but think of the esthetics of the building I was in and how it looked like a scene from “The Pursuit of Happyness” because of the architecture and tiled floors. I felt like I was standing in line at an old unemployment office instead of a DMV location. I was not looking forward to this. But then something interesting happened. I sat down and indicated that I needed to get a new PA license to replace my VA license, which I set down on the desk in front of me. The first word that came of the lady’s mouth was my name. Haven’t you gotten that feeling before? Like you’re more than just a number, but an actual person. Like you have been noticed, and even though you’ll never see that person again, you matter to them at least for those few minutes at their desk. A warm, welcoming sensation rushed over me in that moment as I realized she took the time to catch my name without introduction and treat me like a person. In one of my college ministry classes my professor spent a few days discussing the importance of using people’s names – memorizing them – and how great of a deal it makes to those you’re ministering to. And that is so important! I think now that he actually left out something very important in that lesson: the importance of using God’s names – memorizing them – and how great of a deal it makes in our relationship with Him.
Posted on November 9, 2011, in Christian Living, Spiritual Disciplines and tagged Christianity, Church, Church Ministry, Family Ministry, God, names, Pastor, Religion, Student Ministry, Youth Ministry, Youth Pastor, Youth Work. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.