Have you ever heard the song, That’s Not My Name? It’s an unusual song by an eclectic group. It’s not the type of music I normally listen to but it is the type that can get stuck in your head. The lyrics are: They call me girl, they call me Stacey, they call me her, they call me Jane. That’s not my name, that’s not my name, that’s not my name, that’s not my name. Most of the lyrics are simply- That’s not my name. While they don’t incorporate a lot of creativity they are effective.
When we were expecting, we wanted to find just the right name for our daughter. We spent hours combing through name books and discussing their merits. Some I liked, some he liked, many neither of us liked. It took time for us to find just the right one we could agree upon.
Our parents named us and we name our children. Some opt for family names while others chose ones that sound melodious to the ear or have a meaning they hope the child will grow to fulfill. Some cultures even wait until meeting the child to select a name.
As toddlers, we learn to answer to the name we’ve been given. When we go to school, we painstakingly learn to spell it one letter at a time. Family and friends can give us nicknames, but we learn quickly that when our parents call us by our full name we’d better come quickly.
There are other names we acquire over time. They may come from siblings, teachers, parents, the world in general or even from ourselves. We may not verbally answer to these additional names but they can become our identity nevertheless. These type of names can include: ugly, stupid, nag, disappointment, liar, gossip, lacking, lazy, procrastinator, unwanted, angry, rude, clumsy, incompetent, impatient, gossip, mean, or simply failure.
But neither the names our parents give us nor the ones the world supplies are who we truly are. Only God can give us our true name. He does so as he knits us together in our mother’s womb. The Bible is full of stories of people who discovered and lived up to their God given name.
- His parents named him David; the world named him lowly shepherd, but God named him King. Through him a kingdom flourished.
- Her parents named her Rahab; the world named her prostitute, but God named her Helper. Through her a city was conquered and the lineage of Jesus flowed.
- His parents named him Saul; the world named him zealot, but on the road to Damascus Jesus named him Apostle. Through Paul the Good News was shared with the Gentile world.
- His parents named him Abram; the world named him childless but God named him Father of Nations. Through Abraham God’s chosen people were established.
- His parents named him Jesus; the world named him carpenter, but God named him Beloved Son. Through Jesus the world finds salvation.
The enemy loves to steal our true name from us. If he convinces us to answer to anything less, we lose our effectiveness and our power. Yet, he can only do what we allow. We can live down to the identity the world gives us or we can live up to the identity God gives us. The choice is completely ours to make.
Reject the false names when they come, sing out that’s not my name—those words need not just be lyrics in a silly song—and substitute your Kingdom one.
God named a coward Mighty and an enemy was vanquished.
God named a fisherman Rock and a church was established.
God named a murderer Leader and a people were led from slavery to the Promised Land.
God named a simple girl Mother and a Savior was born.
What might you do if you answered to the name God has given you?
Message for the Journey:
What name do you live by? Is it something like nag, cheater, angry, disappointment, liar, gossip, not enough, stupid, late, or simply failure? These may be names you’ve received but they are not your name. God names you words like beloved, cherished, friend, patient, courageous, forgiven, conqueror, delight, or encourager. The name you choose to live by will make all the difference.