Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that my sisters are popping out babies fast enough to exhaust the alphabet this year. Names and all their meanings have been on my mind, lately.
Names have always been associated with identity. Native Americans are the most obvious example, naming their children after the seasons in which they were born or aspirations for them to grow into great hunters.
It’s seen over and over in the Bible, too. Jacob’s name meant “deceiver”, and he lived up to it. When he was a young man, he collaborated with his mother to deceive his blind father into giving him the greatest portion of the inheritance and the birthright that belonged to his older brother.
Our names define us. They single us out in a crowd, they identify us for all kinds of legal procedures; they designate our legacies long after we’re gone. So it’s not surprising that in the Bible, when God did big things in someone’s He often changed their name. Jacob is a perfect example.
Giving someone a name is a sign of intimacy. Though not a legal procedure, as people become close and develop a unique relationship, it’s not uncommon for them to bestow nicknames on each other. Sometimes, that nickname takes over and forms the identity of one person to another and no one else can use that special title.
Think of a father who named his daughter in the birthing room. But as she aged, they bonded over daddy-daughter dates, popsicles and fishing. Now, he calls her something new, a name with special significance, something no one else understands, something no else can say. When she hears that name, she instantly knows the one who summons her, and she runs into his arms.
Revelation 2:17 says, “To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”
I think that’s our Heavenly Father’s promise of a greater intimacy with Him than we have ever known. His love for us and knowledge of us far surpasses any human relationship. And one day, He will whisper that precious nickname that He has called you from the very start.