Original Title: What's In a Name
With just a few days left to homeschool before we are Christmasing full-time around here, I started a new read-aloud book today with my girls. Judging from the first two chapters of Island of the Blue Dolphin, we're in for a grand adventure with a developing young heroine.
I ran across this early on:
"I come in peace and wish to parley," he said to the men on the shore.
None of them answered, but my father, who was one of those hidden among the rocks, came forward down the sloping beach. He thrust his spear into the sand.
"I am the Chief of Ghalas-at," he said. "My name is Chief Chowig."
I was surprised that he gave his real name to a stranger. Everyone in our tribe had two names, the real one which was secret and was seldom used, and one which was common, for if people use your secret name it becomes worn out and loses its magic. Thus I was known as Wan-a-pa-lie, which means The Girl With the Long Black Hair, though my secret name is Karana. My father's secret name was Chowig. Why he gave it to a stranger I do not know.
My mind raced to the Christmas story I have been "reciting" on my facebook page. Joseph was told to give the child the name Jesus. Joseph is now on board with the whole Messiah thing - it only took an angel to convince him.
Can you imagine? Your fiance tells you she's pregnant by the Spirit of God rather than by any act of unfaithfulness. All-righty-then!! While you're trying to figure out what to do with this tidbit, an angel appears to confirm the story (making this easier to swallow?!). The last straw is when he hears, "Name him Bob." Bizare doesn't begin to do it justice.
Jesus - to many of us today in Western society, a name reserved for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but back in the day in the Holy land, it was quite common. Why such a common name? Was God sending the message that Jesus is Everyman? That God is just like us? A common, ordinary guy, like your next door neighbor? The God of the Universe disguised as Man.
The Old Testament law prohibits using His name in vain. The Jews wouldn't think of uttering it at all, and left out letters when recording it in scrolls couldn't be avoided. But how many times did God answer to the name "Bob" while he walked the earth? Did he feel common? Did his name become meaningless?
My life sometimes seems meaningless and common. When someone needs my attention, they call my name. Do you get tired of being called upon? The responsibilities of life call us, our families call upon us, our problems and worries beckon us. Sometimes I get to the point that I cringe when I hear my own name called yet again.
If you've read the Book, you'll know that because Jesus came to Earth to rescue us from ourselves, God highly exalted Him and gave him the name which is above every name.
We, too, will get new names when we enter Heaven. No one will bow to it like we will His name, but it will be important. It won't be ordinary and worn out. It won't have lost its meaning or remind us of our Earthly life. It will be the Father's pet name for his beloved child. It'll be our sacred secret.