What Others Say

I look forward to your Reflections to make me smile, laugh, remember and reflect on God’s grace and mercy as I move throughout my day. - Aliya G.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What's In A Name?

When my phone rings and someone asks for “William,” I know they don’t know me.  William is my legal name, and usually those who ask for “William” turn out to be telemarketers. But when the caller asks for “Billy,” I know they are from my past.  I was known as “Billy” in my childhood, youth and early adult years. My wife still calls me Billy.  If they ask for “Bill,” they probably met me during my mid-life and later career when I opted for the shorter version.  “Bill” seemed more professional than “Billy” and I thought it sounded better with my last name.

I guess I would have been the same person regardless of my name.  Since my middle name is Charles, I could have been called “Charlie” or “Chuck.”  My father called me Butch.  He was the only one.

Names are important.  When someone calls us by our name it opens doors of relationship. But even more important than our name is the voice of the one who calls us.  The effect of hearing our name spoken by those who love us is different than when it is spoken by others. 

God knows us by our name and calls us by name.  It is a measure of the intimacy by which we are known and loved.  When Moses wandered off the beaten path with shattered dreams and settled for a future shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep, God called his name:   When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3:4).

When the boy Samuel was growing up in the Temple, God called his name:  “Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10).  In the fullness of time, the angel Gabriel called to a young woman in Nazareth: ““Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). Those moments changed history.

Sometimes God changed a name in order to reflect His plan and purpose for a person’s life.  Jacob’s name, which means “deceiver” or “supplanter,” was changed to Israel, meaning “you have struggled with God” or “prince of God.”  When Jesus met the fisherman, Simon,  “Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).” John 1:42).

Jesus said, “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:2-4).

To God, no one is a number or a statistic. He knows you better than you know yourself.  God knows you and calls you by name.  

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