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Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Power of a Name

It is my habit, when I come home, to call out the name of every denizen as I find him or her. I even did it with the fish when I had some. This is a lengthy process, because I have seven critters who occupy various places throughout the house throughout the day. I will not leave the house until I have found and spoken to each one. I do this in part because I want to be certain no one has been shut into a closet or cupboard. I do it in part because I want them to remember their names. I do it because it seems polite to do so, even with animals.

Several classes in college impressed upon me the power of calling a person by name. A name is more than a label. It is an identity, and people respond when you have cared enough to remember their name. I met some young ladies from China last week, and they were obviously surprised and delighted when I called them by name. Well, I butchered one name, but I won't next week! I called them by name, and they knew they were special.

One of my favorite passages in John takes place just after Jesus' resurrection. Mary is at the empty tomb, beside herself with grief. She mistakes Jesus for the gardener, until He says "Mary." She instantly knows who He is because He knows her name. He tells us in Revelation that He will give each of us a white stone with our name on it, a name known only to Him.

I imagine the day my Lord will call my name, and I will go to Him. The sheep know the shepherd's voice.

I just want to be a sheep. Baa baa.

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