What’s in a Name?
” Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee ” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Our names are probably one of the most familiar aspects of our persons. One of the first words we learn as a child , our names come into play every day. Well, if you read our devotions and visit our website often enough, you may have noticed that my name has changed. I’m still Erika, but my last name went from Hammar-Klose to Klose. The story as to how this came about is very long and very involved, but here’s a condensed version. When my parents were divorced, back when I was about three years old, my name was changed to reflect both of their last names – Hammar (for my mom) and Klose (for my dad). So, my entire life I’ve lived as a Hammar-Klose. Well, as I attempted to get a new drivers license a few months back, I needed some additional documentation to reflect this change (since my birth certificate reads Erika Klose). Upon trying to track down the documentation I found out that there had been a mistake back in the late 70’s and the name change had not officially been made. Thus, I had been living as Erika Hammar-Klose, but my legal name was still Erika Klose. You can imagine the shock and fear that went through me! I’d been living under a name that was not my own. Technically I was illegal in many ways! After weeks of prayer, phone calls, lawyers, judges and Social Security offices, my name is now (and it turns out has always been) Erika Klose. It sounds a little funny to me, but I’m getting used to it. And much faster than I ever thought possible, it’s becoming more and more my own.
I’ve learned many lessons in this, the ultimate identity crisis, one of which I’d like to share with you today. Our names may be how the world identifies us, but God knows us by our hearts . God is not limited by knowing me just as Erika Klose. Any stranger that I am introduced to knows me as Erika Klose, but God knows me inside and out. He created me and before my parents ever called me Erika, He knew exactly who I was. In Psalm 139:13-15, David testifies to the knowledge of this fact, ” For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth “. The Lord spoke the same to Jeremiah when He said, ” Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee ” (Jeremiah 1:5). I believe that God has a special name for each of our hearts, by which only He can call us. He calls out to each of us by name (John 10:4) and it is our hearts that hear and respond.
We see in the Bible, too, where God changes someone’s earthly name -when He has called them into service or a new way of life. In Genesis, we see that God changed Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah as He makes His covenant with the couple (Genesis 17:5). As the Lord comes to Jacob after his night of wresting with the angel (Genesis 32:28), He changes his name to Israel. Jacob was from this day forth not just the father of the twelve tribes but a new man because he had seen God face to face (Genesis 32:30). One of the most dramatic changes ever, and one so familiar to Christians, is the change in Saul as he becomes Paul. Saul goes through a dramatic conversion (Acts 3) and as he begins his work for the Lord, we read that he now goes by the name Paul (Acts 13:9). In each of these instances, the Lord changes the name of His followers to reflect a change in their lives. He was creating a worldly symbol for an inward change in each of their lives. The true message here is not that God changed their name, but that they were changed individuals and the Lord wanted that on display.
Each of us who know God must display the changes that the Lord has made in our lives each and every day. We need to live our lives in such a way that we aren’t known just by our names, but in such a way that our reputation as a child of God makes us known. Proverbs 22:1 tells us, ” A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold “. Our names are just worldly identifiers, but our lives are a reflection of our hearts. It is through our hearts that we align ourselves with God, how much more then should our hearts bear a family resemblance to Him? It’s a common saying around here at Woman at the Well Ministries that your life may be the only bible that some people read, so you’d better make sure that there is enough Jesus in you to show someone Him. I don’t want people to know me just as Erika Klose, I want them to know me by my life and as someone who knows Him well. How about you?