Posted by: graceunbound | July 2, 2008

What’s your name?

The problem with having two at home is that Indy knows exactly how to push all of Gates’ buttons, and believe me, they are easy to push. Cries of “Mom, he’s BOTHERING me AGAIN!” are often heard in our house. What’s an older brother to do?

Last week Gates hit upon the ideal solution. “Mom, I’m changing Indy’s name. Call him ‘Mark’ now.” Yes, he said it that matter-of-factly, as if it were the most normal thing in the world for him to decide what his younger brother should be called.

“But why? Don’t you like his name? Why do you want to call him Mark?”

“Because if we call him Mark he will be nicer.”

Perfectly logical to a six year old, but I wondered where on earth he had gotten the idea. Then I remembered a short conversation we had several weeks before about Saul. In the course of the conversation I believe I said something about God changing Saul’s name and afterwards he wasn’t mean to the Christians anymore. Who knew where that would lead in the mind of a six year old?

Names carried a lot of weight in the Bible. Sometimes people changed their own name (Naomi’s request to call her Mara, no longer ‘pleasant’, but ‘bitterness’), sometimes their name was changed by God (Abraham, Sarah, Jacob), and numerous times they were directed to name a child something that conveyed a message or a quality that God wanted conveyed. Have you ever wondered why that was so important? Abraham/Abram. The name didn’t change his destiny; that was already promised by God. So why are names so important?

I don’t think it was so much about the name as it was about the person’s identity. It was a declarative “This is who you are.” When God impacts our lives he wants it to shine through in every aspect of our being. Our names are changed; we take on the identity of child of God.

There is a song we used to sing, years ago, typically at the tempo of something like a dirge, in direct opposition to the message.

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast
Lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness
Overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks my face.

Copyright © 1987 Mercy Publishing. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

God changes us. He changes our destiny, he changes our outlook, he changes our purpose, he changes our name.

No, I’m not always going to live like a reflection of what he has named me; there will be days I still feel more like ‘wounded’ than ‘overcoming one’. There are days that ‘joyfulness’ is a hard name to claim. No matter what I feel though, there is one name that never changes. Child of God. He has declared it to be my name; and that will not change.

“How great is the love the father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  1 John 3:1 (New International Version)



  1. I loved this. Beautiful. Please forgive my short comments. I just am at a loss for words after reading the ones you so beautiful write.

  2. Short, long, or in between, I am just happy to see your comments! Thank you again for reading and commenting, it means a lot!

  3. I remember the first time realized God is love. It was absolutely freeing for me. That the foundational quality of God is overwhelming, outrageous love in spite of all that have done or will do (good, bad, etc.). I sensed the voice of God telling me that He loved me many times, over and over (yes I am charismatic!), and then about two years after this started re-energizing my life and faith, I was walking down the cleaning aisle in hyvee (of all places) and the voice was nearly audible (hard to tell with those mind-trip things) saying “shel, I love you because you are mine.” With sort of a that’s-all-that-matters matter-of-factness about it.

    It was in 1996 when my faith became more real than ever. And for several years, in my mind, the voice of the Spirit spoke again and again, unprompted – You are Mine. I love you because you are Mine.

    Your wonderful writing brought all that back. And so you are being used even this moment to make a difference. Glad that I have sister like you!

    (and yes I like the old-time pentecostal and mennonite use of brother/sister as cheesy as it sounds, it really makes an awesome statement about being children of God.)

  4. Thank you. I am…I don’t know, humbled? Because I’m pretty sure it isn’t due to any great talent on my part, but God choosing to reach through my words to say something. But thank you anyway. 🙂

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