What's in a Name?

A recent trip to Galveston found Gary and me in a golf cart, tooling around the picturesque neighborhood of Sea Isle, enjoying a most beautiful day. As we traveled, I noticed that almost every home we passed was marked with a placard bearing the name given the dwelling by its current or a previous owner. Names posted to some homes were simple: “The Smith’s Home,” “The Jones’ Place,” and even one merely labeled, “Beach House.” Others were more creative, perhaps chosen deliberately to describe the personalities of the homes themselves, or the people residing there. The home dubbed “Margaritaville” looked as though it had been plucked from the pages of its namesake website. Tropical blues, corals, greens and yellows adorned the house’s exterior, and an outdoor pool and bar beckoned visitors to come in and stay awhile. My mind envisioned gregarious owners living within those walls - fun and festive people, always ready for a good time! My very favorite signpost, the one I considered most inventive, was mounted on the porch of an elegant canal-front home replete with boat, pool, golf cart and lots of cushy furnishings. Its name? “The Merry Yacht.” Say it several times, and you’ll soon recognize the name is not unlike that hospitality corporation – the one famous for its luxurious and welcoming properties. I imagined the owners of this beach house to be particularly attuned to the needs and wants of their guests, determined to make their visit to Galveston Island a relaxing and memorable one.

But what’s in a name, really?

Well, names are important, for they are often reflections of who we are (or who we believe we are) at our core. My given name, Lynn, was randomly chosen from a book of baby names by my mom and dad. But I’d venture to say they selected a name that suits me "to a T.” For the name, Lynn, has two primary meanings: 1) verbose, and 2) a babbling brook. I can hear you laughing, people, but it’s almost uncanny how well the designation befits me! I do not have an economy with words and tend to ramble on, especially when nervous or frustrated. I’m hardly succinct, but my words, both spoken and written, flow from a heart that yearns to be understood and desires to encourage others. But “Lynn” is not my only identifier. Like each of you, I’ve been christened with countless labels or titles through the years that endeavor to describe my role in the world; my nature, perhaps; or a quality that makes me uniquely “me.” Some are endearing - “Mom,” “Little Bit,” “Linda Lou,” and “Little Buddy.” They encourage me. Others (most often, self-ascribed) are less-than-flattering - “useless,” “insignificant,” “inept,” "inadequate," and “unattractive.” These can demoralize me. I once read that it takes a thousand compliments to overcome one critical comment or thought. This babbling brook would have to engage in a lot of positive self-talk to overcome all the disparaging descriptors floating around in my little head!

I open the pages of my Bible to rediscover this very good news: God, my Creator, believes that I am special, and infinitely more valuable than any of the monikers I claim. He confers upon me labels that have the power to transform rather than tear down; identifiers like “beloved,” “work of art,” “precious,” “a light,” “chosen,” and “righteous and holy.” But how can I possibly be as wonderful as God’s Word would suggest, especially when many of the awful titles, labels, and identifiers I carry with me are, in fact, accurate representations of who I am? Stated simply, my true worth originates not from who I am, but instead springs from the selfless, redeeming work of God’s perfectly Holy Son, Jesus Christ. It is who He is, and who I am through Him, that brings me significance. Jesus Christ - the One whose Name is above all other names – loves this little babbling brook, and He calls me His own! I allow this truth to penetrate my mind… then gratefully and humbly suspend this signpost over the door frame of my heart: I am Yours.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth... and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
~Philippians 2:9-11

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine.”
~Isaiah 43:1-2

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash