Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's In a Name?

My dad collected names. Not just any names, but funny, unique names. His list included characters like Luther Orange Lemon, Molly Kuel and Sarah Bellum. But most interesting was a guy named Gorry Hogg who reportedly named his daughter Ima and Ura (since proven not to be completely factual). Still, I always wondered what it would be like to be a first grader when a teacher asked you your name and you respond, "Ima Hogg." Poor kid. Do you think growing up with that name just might result in some issues later in life?

Some people have very ordinary names, like Jim Smith, Mike Brown, or Sally Jones. Others have been named with a name nobody every heard of or can pronounce. That would have to be a joy having people butcher your name all through life, wouldn't it?

And still others were named a pretty ordinary name that later became well known. One such guy was born a long time ago. He was the 10th of 12 children, and only two of those children lived past the age of three. Tragic. Later he was known as the Patriarch of Liberty and Father of the American Revolution. He was a good and godly man. And yet as great as all that was, his name is associasted these days with a popular beer. His name was Sam Adams.

Names may help us (Trump) or hinder us (Ima Hogg). Or maybe we are one of a million people with the same, plain, boring name (Joe Smith). But names really can't determine who we really are or what we become. That is, unless we allow them. As a child of God, as one of God's chosen, we are unique. No name, regardless if it's ordinary or outrageous can change how God sees us. He says this about us:

God calls you His friend (John 15:15), God is love and God loves you (2 Cor. 13:11), and God knew you before you were born, even as you were knitted in your mother's womb (Is. 43:7). But maybe most importantly, God says in Isaiah 48:12: "Listen Jacob. Listen Israel - I'm the One who named you. I am the One." (MSG)

When I am feeling fairly unworthy, unimportant, or really plain and boring, I need to remind myself that God created and named me. I am His. And frankly, He thinks I'm pretty special. He feels the same about you. Thank you Lord for giving me my identity.