February 3, 2015
"But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine."
When was the last time you attended a party or gathering, met lots of new people and left remembering all of their names? There are a few that are very gifted at remembering names. However, the majority of us are terrible at name memory.
I once worked at a high school. The first principal I worked under had this gift. She knew the names of all 400 students in our school. It only took her once to meet each student and remember their names.
When we lived in California, we would occasionally visit my husband's uncle's church. His pastor had a very large congregation; but if he met you, he would remember your name. I am always fascinated by this gift. How can anyone keep all those names straight in their head?
As a high school counselor, I made it a point to work harder at remembering names. I realized that if I wanted to have a better relationship with my students, and really, truly gain their trust, I needed to remember who they were.
The desire was sparked by seeing the response my students gave me when they realized I had forgotten their names after working with them for a long period of time. I knew some of my students, but I decided that in order to really help them, they had to know I cared for them. In order to really care, I had to put some effort into knowing their names. How on earth would they believe I cared, if I didn't even know their name?
So I decided to find a characteristic about them to help me remember. I would also use word association to help me remember their name. Both of these practices helped me increase the memorization of my students' names.
5 years ago, when my husband and I decided to start this blog, he suggested we call it, "What's in a Name?" Back then, I am not sure we truly grasped the importance of the title. Even today, I don't believe I fully know why God placed that title in Marcus' heart.
If I have a friend who claims to love me and have an interest in my life, but they cannot remember my name, can I really call them a friend? If they don't remember my name after two months of hanging out, six months, nine months, a year, can I trust they have any genuine interest in me?
Our names are what identify us to others. Even if we are not the only person in the room with our name, there is something about our name that matters deeply to us. When we hear our name, our ears perk up. Even when we completely zone out, when we hear our name called, our ears perk up and we respond to it.
I work for a university as an administrative assistant. If I walked by our university President and he acknowledge me by name, I admit, I would feel honored. The idea that someone that far removed from me recognizes me and knows me by name generates a reaction to me. It makes me feel important. I have to admit, it even warms my heart a bit. Why? Because my name matters to me. If someone remembers my name, that shows me that I matter to them, and that they have some invested interest in me.
Especially someone like God. Who would want to pray to a God that doesn't know your name? More specifically, why on earth would I waste my time praying to a God who created the universe, myself included, but has no idea what to call me? If He is too busy to remember my name, how could He possibly have time to hear my prayers, or meet my needs?
But God loves us, and He does know our name. In Jeremiah 1:5 God tells him that before He formed him in the womb, He knew him. Before he was born, God consecrated him, and he appointed him a prophet unto the nations.
We can rest assured that the same promises God made to Jeremiah in this scripture, He made us. He knit us in our mother's womb. But before He did that, He knew who we were. He knew us before we were born. He set us apart in the very beginning, and He had a very specified calling on each of our lives.
We are important to God. He knows our name. He has put so much care into each human life that He created. The love He has for us is beyond comprehension. He love us, and He calls us by name. What's in a Name? God's love for us, and His reminder of just how much we matter to Him.