"Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine" (Isaiah 43:1 NASB).
Friend to Friend
Over the years, several people in my life never seem to remember my name. A few of my more popular aliases are Sarah James, Susan James, Shannon James, and Jane Jaynes. Then there are the people who just can't remember me altogether and don't even try to fish a name from their memory pool. To tell you the truth, I'm not very good with names either.
However, names are very important to God. In the Bible, a person's name revealed a unique quality of their character. Moses meant "drawn out of water." Ruth meant "woman friend." Naomi meant "pleasant," and she changed it to "Mara" which meant "bitter." Her two sons' names meant "Puny" and Piney." Evidently, these two fellows weren't exactly strapping young he-men, and both died at an early age. If a person had an encounter with the living God, many times He changed their name to fit the experiences He had planned for their futures. Abram was changed to Abraham. Sarai was changed to Sarah. Saul was changed to Paul.
Yes, names are very important. That's why when someone very dear to me forgot mine, it broke my heart.
My father accepted Jesus as his Savior when I was 21 years old. The transformation I saw in him was nothing short of miraculous. One of the benefits that I received was that he learned how to love me. In my father's later years, we had a very tender and dear relationship. But it was short lived.
A few years after dad committed his life to Christ, I noticed him becoming very forgetful. At first, it was small idiosyncrasies: forgetting an order at work, misplacing his shoes or keys, not remembering what day it was, drawing a blank on a close friend's name. Then it progressed to more serious absent-minded behavior: forgetting where he parked in a parking deck (and even which parking deck), coming home to take my mother to the market forgetting he had already taken her an hour before, and becoming confused when taking measurements for cabinets which he had been doing for over forty years. In 1987, our greatest fears were confirmed. Dad had Alzheimer's disease. He was fifty-six-years-old.
My dad had been a tough cookie as a young man. From the time he was fifty-six to sixty-six, I watched a competent, quick witted entrepreneur reduced to a man who could not remember how to speak, button his shirt or move a spoon from his plate to his mouth. But what pained me the most was the day he forgot my name.
I still remember holding his face in my hands and saying, "Daddy, it's me. Do you know who I am?" But I was only met by a childish grin and eyes that seemed to look straight through me.
Names. They are important. In Isaiah 43:1, God says, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine" (NASB). In Isaiah 49:1, the prophet announces, "Before I was born, the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name" (NIV).
As God's child, He has called you by name and the Bible promises He will never forget it. Your name is engraved on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16).
On a Friday morning in May of 1996, the Lord graciously came and took my earthly father to his new home in glory. He's probably up there right now measuring for cabinets and working on all those mansions we've read so much about. His memory has been restored and I look forward to the day when my earthly father and my heavenly Father welcome me with open arms and say, "Welcome, Sharon, my daughter, my child."
Dear Father, sometimes when I think of you calling my name, I am moved to tears. You know my name! You have it engraved in the palm of your hand. Thank you Lord that you will never forget me. In Jesus' precious name, Amen
Now It's Your Turn
As we have seen, names are important. The most important name in the universe is God's name. Do you ever say His name flippantly or without reverence? ("Oh my God," for example.)
How do you think God feels about His name being used as an explicative? (Exodus 20:7) Make a commitment today to speak God's name in reverence and holiness.
What does it mean to you that God knows you by name?
Write a prayer of thanksgiving to God expressing the joy of knowing that your name is engraved on the palm of His hand.