This opening line to our evening’s reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible triggered a quick-fire response from the kids: “What does my name mean?” “What about MY name?” “What’s MINE?”
I reminded our kids that they all know the stories behind their names—each of them is named after a beloved family member. I’ve told them over and over the significance of their names and countless stories about the loved ones for whom they are named.
(Random fact: all three of my kids are named in memory of my father in some way. My oldest carries my dad’s middle name. My middle daughter’s initials are my dad’s nickname for me. And my son is, of course, named after my father.)
But the kids pressed: what did their names MEAN?
It was a good question. I wasn’t sure.
So after our devotional and prayer, we searched baby names on the computer. (How did people do things without the Internet?) The derivations and meanings of all our names were somewhat lackluster, except for my son’s name, which means “strong and honorable.” He liked that one. :-)
Interestingly, the next morning, my own devotional, Jesus Calling, took me to Ephesians 3. And in the opening lines to one of my favorite passages, I saw something I’d never realized before:
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name . . .” (Eph. 3:14-15)
Whoa. I’d read past that verse countless times on my way to the rest of the chapter, which speaks of “the breadth and length and height and depth” of the “love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and how God is able to do “exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.”
But this time, God stopped me at verse 15. It was if He was saying, You want to know the derivation of your name? You are named after Me, your heavenly Father!
I carry the name of my heavenly Father.
And each of my children carries not only the name of my earthly father, but also of their heavenly Father.
And if you are part of the family of God, you, too, are named after your heavenly Father. No matter what your earthly name may be, you carry the name of God, our Father.
(Pause to let that sink in.)
You may not like your name. Like me, maybe your name is too popular and the stores were always sold out of the trinkets bearing your name. (I think almost every daughter born in the 1970s was named Jennifer!)
Or maybe your name is tainted with bad memories. Perhaps you still bear the surname of a spouse who left you or a father who mistreated or abandoned you.
Regardless of the name your parents gave you or the name you took in marriage . . . there is good news! If you belong to the family of God, you have a name you can be proud of! You bear HIS name!
* * *
And as if that weren’t enough reason to praise God today, here’s one more bit of good news about your name:
Revelation 2:17 tells us that someday Jesus will give us a “new name.” Each of us who already bears the name of our Father will receive a nickname from the risen Jesus, a name that only He knows. A special name He will give us because He loves us.
A new name.
And not only that, Jesus says to those of us who overcome, “I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name” (Rev. 3:12).
His new name.
“Behold,” Jesus says to you and to me . . . and to anyone who may be struggling or striving or sad today . . .
“I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).