Tuesday, January 9, 2007

A Secret Name

Think about someone you love… I’m sure their ‘name’ immediately flashed across your mind, didn’t it? Our name identifies us…it sets us apart ..it gives us our own unique place in an intimidating world.
Naming a child is one of the most important things parents do, often taking months to find just the right name. This name will take on the color of the character and personality of the child as they grow up. If the person lives an honorable life he is said to have a ‘good name’. The converse is also true.... who doesn’t associate evil with the name of Hitler?
Sometimes our loved ones – family or friends - give us a pet name or a nickname that indicates that we have a special bond or relationship with them, a name no one else uses to address us.
Our name on a card or gift or over our place of business speaks to us that we have worth, that we are recognized. It is a basic human need to feel that we have significance, and it is not without our name that we can achieve it. Though we change and discard many things in our lives very few people ever change their given name , even though we had no voice in choosing it. Someone else decided what we would be called.

Did you know that every believer will one day be given a new name by Jesus? If we consider it an honor to carry the name our parents choose for us how much greater an honor will it be to be given a special name chosen by God?
In Rev. 2:17 Jesus makes a promise to those who stay faithful until the end. He promises “I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” He will give you and me a secret name…a name known only to God and to us. Does it surprise you that there will be secrets in heaven? Isn’t sharing a secret a sign of intimacy? Even young children understand very quickly that there is a built-in mystique to be able to say .”I’ll tell you a secret.”

I no longer remember where I read it but the following story touched me so deeply I never forgot it.

A missionary dedicated his life to bring the gospel to a primitive tribe deep in the jungles and far from civilization. He encountered the expected problems of first learning an unknown, unwritten language and then struggling to express the things of God so these primitive people could understand. In this village lived an old man who was drawn to the missionary but resisted his teaching. It seemed unfathomable to him that there was a God who had died to save him , when all his life he had felt ostracized by the members of his own tribe. He finally came to the missionary one day and said that he was ready to accept this God and prayed a prayer of faith. His countenance changed and he became kinder and more loving , even forgiving those who had mistreated him. He had only been a Christian for a short time when he became very ill and faced death. The missionary assured him that God was waiting to receive him into heaven but the old man struggled with fear that God would not recognize him when he came to heaven’s door.
In this village there was an ancient tribal custom . When a child was born their mother whispered a secret name into their ear. Only after they were grown was this name repeated.. by the mother whispering it once more into their ear. Never was this name spoken aloud. No one was ever to know this secret name, except for one very special friend and it was the highest possible honor to be told someone’s secret name. The old man had never told anyone.
Seeing the old man was nearing the last moments of his life, the missionary knelt beside him, praying. Suddenly the dying man’s eye’s opened . A glad astonished cry escaped from his lips and his face shone with an unearthly light. His last words were clear and jubilant, “Jesus ! He knows my secret name ! He is calling me by my secret name!”

Two things touch me in this story. The first is that it illustrates the gentleness of God in stooping down to relate to us at our level.
The second is the mystery of where the tribal custom of a secret name came from. These were primitive people who had never been out of the jungle. They had no access to culture or learning outside of what was verbally passed down to them from their ancestors. Yet, here was this custom that had been practiced for generations. Could it be possible that God somehow inspired this custom so one day one old man could understand his worth before God? I am always awed at how great our God is. As much as the world has to offer… it pales into obscurity in contrast to what God has planned for each of His children.

Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen,… what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.


Lovella said...

OK Julie, now I have goosebumps. How can we keep touching on the same thing? Today it's names. I don't have the same inspirational insights that you do but I always feel that it is God who inspires even my ideas. Wow.
I really appreciate the daily devotional. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Demara said...

Aw wow! This story gave me shivers...I love missionary stories! Could that book be called: "Bruchko" about the missionary: Bruce Olson? Just a thought, if so, I love that book. That reminds me I should read it again because it's so encouraging. Thank-you for the reminder that God my Father has called me and wants me despite my unfaithfulness toward Him at times!

Julie said...

Thank-you , Demara. Yes, I think it was 'Bruchko'. Have you read 'Peace Child' by Don Richardson? You'll love that one too if you haven't read it yet.

Demara said...

No I don't think I have read 'Peace Child', what's it about? I will have to check it out sometime and see how it is, thanks for the recommendation! (: