Points to Ponder: What's In A Name?

Points to Ponder
What's In A Name?

When we brought our youngest daughter Joanna into the world, Elizabeth ("big sister") was 4 years old. Fortunately, for the most part they get along and play well together. It's been interesting to observe how Elizabeth's identity in her sister's eyes has evolved over time.
When she first began to speak, she would refer to Elizabeth as "Baby." I'd pick up something belonging to Elizabeth and Joanna would say, "That's Baby's." Initially Elizabeth's ego was bruised, seeing she is the big sister after all; however, she adapted by calling Joanna "Big Girl." It was rather comical and perhaps confusing to the uninitiated to hear this 18 month old calling her sister "Baby" and the 5 year old addressing her as "Big Girl."
Overtime Joanna began to articulate words a little better and her sister then became "Bizbeth." That was kind of cute; even I started calling her Bizbeth. Then over time, and with exposure to multiple friends of her big sister who called her Elizabeth, Joanna got a little better. I can't quite spell out how the name changed, but she calls her big sister "Alilabeth." Leave the "z" out and say it three times fast, and you have it.
Lately at almost age 3 and Elizabeth at 7 1/2, Joanna has just about gotten the name down. It has been an interesting lesson with a spiritual application.
When Joanna first met her sister, Elizabeth was a stranger. Over time, seeing Elizabeth around the house, Elizabeth playing with her, calling her name, singing to her, Joanna recognized a more intimate bond existed between her and this girl with the long complicated name. She knows Elizabeth's voice and her name.
Joanna loves her big sister, trusts her, and follows her lead. But all of this developed over time as Elizabeth kept initiating the interactions. She loved Joanna first. She reached out and held her first--and over time as the bond developed, Joanna learned her name and now reaches out in love for Elizabeth.
So it is with God, as He initiated contact with us. In First John we are told that we love Him because He first loved us. God stepped out of eternity and glory, and humbled Himself by becoming one of us (John 1:1-5, 14; Phil 2:6-11).
At first we have a sense of His presence in our world, and recognize there is a God (Romans 1:19-20); but He has made Himself known by name through Jesus Christ. His name means salvation. Over time, if we are observant and seeking to understand, we see that He is here now; other people have witnessed to His presence and power personally. The accounts go back across the recent week and the past twenty centuries.
He's been reaching out to many with a voice on the radio, or a preacher in a pulpit, and through the lives of people sitting on buses or planes, standing on corners, or sipping coffee at the table across the room. That name keeps coming up and some seek to learn of Him. As they look back behind them at the path their lives have traveled, and they study closely, they see signs that He'd been there; He just wasn't noticed at the time. But now it all connects. There is this One who's been trying to get a message across to the hurting soul, the empty one who wants to know. There's a hand, a comforting word, a saying said at the right time; intersections where one life has crossed paths with different other, up-til-then, unknown lives. Yet there's a common message, a curious drawing from within that seems to say deep inside, "Come. Find me." It is as the mathematician Pascal put it, "You would not be seeking me, if I had not already found you."
The message, the Person, the love that's been reaching and touching the heart--and the Name. Yes it is Him. Do you know yet? Curious how something so strange can turn out to be so very familiar.
"He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:7-11 NKJV)
And the promise today is "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)
What's in a name? Everything that really matters.

This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.