My newly four year old daughter was chattering away in the backseat. I was concentrating on the song on our radio, not completely tuned into what she was saying. It took a second to realize she was calling herself Riley. Not that Riley isn’t an adorable name, but we had named her Raleigh. The problem with that name though is that everyone who hears it thinks we are saying Riley, and that is what they address her as. I however, wanted her to know her name was indeed, Raleigh.
Turning, I said, “No honey, your name is Raleigh.” To which she replied, “No, it’s Riley.” My smart comeback was, “no dear, it’s Raleigh.” Which garnered her loud response, “I’m RIIII-LEEE”, and this argument continued, me trying to convince her what her true name was, her already convinced it was something else. Finally, in exasperation, I turned and looked her in the eye with my ‘mom’ look, and said, “I named you child, and I know your name.” This quieted her, she seemed to take it in, and I believed I had convinced her. I turned my head back and sat for all of two seconds before her sweet voice called out, “It’s Riley.”
In that moment, God spoke directly to my heart. How many times have we believed the names others have given us, or the names we’ve given ourselves? We listen to the voices, we believe we are called something different than we were born to be and all the while God is calling out to us, “I named you child, and I know your name.”
This thought stayed with me, pinging around in my head as I listed names we call ourselves in place of what God called us when he created us. I began to wonder, did our Heavenly Father have a name for us, just as our earthly parents did. Then certain verses started to jump out at me.
Did you know that there are at least four different places where people are given new names in the Bible. In Genesis 17, God renames Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah as he reveals to them His plan for their lives. In Genesis 32, after Jacob wrestles with God, he is renamed Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus tells Simon he is Peter. Each of their new names told them what God planned to do through them. It also revealed to me that God had a name for them other than their earthly name. Maybe he did for me too.
I continued to look and I came to two verses that I saw in a different light. The first was the verse from Psalms 139 of how God knits us together in our mother’s womb, how before we are even born, all our days were ordained for us, written in his book. As someone who loves to write, this verse intrigued me in a new way. When I have a story to tell, I create names for the people in that story. I don’t write them in my book without first naming them. God is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), surely that Author named us when he wrote us in his book.
The second verse that spoke out to me was Psalm 147:4, which says “He counts the number or stars; He gives names to them all.” Wow! Well, back up a minute. Earlier I mentioned some of the name changes that occur in the Bible. One of those was Abram to Abraham, which means “Father of many”. In Genesis 15, God had Abram look to the sky and told him “Look up at the heavens and count the stars, if indeed you can count them…so shall your offspring be.” He was making Abram a father to the nations and comparing his offspring to the very stars that He had already created, counted and named.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I believe if God has named an infinite number of stars, if He knows each one and can call them by name, then surely my friend, He has named you, and He knows your name. Isn’t it time you start listening for it?