What’s in a Name?

There was a point in my life when I was in a moment of decision.  But the choices were as clear as a fork in the road: it’s either God’s way or my way. I was grateful that a friend was right beside me, watching me grappling with God, eyes watery and plans broken into shambles  (now looking back, it was kind of embarrassing).

He did what any good Christian friend would do: comfort, encourage and ask the most gut wrenching question: “What this is not God’s will for you at all?” I remember a pang of conviction struck my heart. Strike one!

“You know that it’s always to be better to be in God’s will than out of Gods will.” Another pang of conviction. Strike two!

Then surprisingly, he asked me “Do you know what your name means?”

Taken aback, I croaked back “What?”

He fiddled with his iPad and brought out one of the many baby name websites that soon-to be parents or hopeful parents browse to search for that perfect name to bestow their precious child:


I just gaped at him silently when he just chuckled softly. He knew. God knew.

FOLLOW CHRIST. That’s what people were calling me for the past twenty-one years of my life. Strike three! I’m out, I surrender.

“I think you should go and pray.”

…and I did.

That was the moment when I realized that names are more than just words you call people as. It is more than a word that that was given to you by your parents, more than a word that was used to call an ancestor, and more than a word randomly searched in a baby name archive. It’s something personally yours, something that identifies you and something that you are called time and time again.

The Bible records many peoples names, their meanings and even key moments when God Himself renames a person to change his/her destiny. In Genesis 17:5, 15, God renamed Abraham and Sarah when they received the promise of being parents to many nations.

Some names defines a person’s personality, identity, future or past. In Genesis 32:28, God renamed Jacob (the supplanter) to Israel (he who has the power of God) , reminding him that the blessing came from God not his conniving ways .

Some people changed their names to reflect what they are going through. In Ruth 1:20,  Naomi (beautiful), who changed her name to Mara (bitter) after the she went through the deaths of her husband and her sons.

I never thought that in a very specific time and situation in my life, God will use my name to remind who am I and what I am supposed to do. And who knows, your name holds a promise or a command or a direction from God too.

What is in your name?

P.S. If your name isn’t a promise but the exact opposite or does not hold any special meaning whatsoever, be of good cheer. “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17). As children of God, God will bestow upon us new names in heaven.


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