When I was a third grade teacher, I was always looking for ways to engage my students — to encourage creativity and critical thinking — and make my classroom a fun and exciting place to be. One of the most wildly successful things I ever tried was “Choose Your Own Name Day.” (I’d gotten the idea from a teacher’s magazine.) Before I sent them home one afternoon, I told the children that their assignment was to choose a new name for themselves. They could be whoever they wanted to be. I’d give them all name tags the next morning and we’d call each other by our new names all that day.
Oh my goodness. You’d think I’d offered them a million dollars! They could NOT contain their excitement — shrieking, giggling, jumping up and down, then hurriedly whispering ideas to their friends, comparing notes, getting ideas. And the next day, they were even giddier. It was one of the silliest, happiest, best-behaved, trouble-free days we ever had.
And I participated right along with them. My name tag read: “Her Royal Majesty, Queen of Third Grade.” And yes, I made them call me that — “Your Majesty” — all day long. It did my heart good, I tell you.
Of course, I couldn’t help but think of the poor parents who spent months combing through baby name books, trying to come up with the perfect name for their precious bundle of joy. Only to find that the child couldn’t wait to change it!
As grownups, many of us would have to admit we don’t really care for the names our own parents chose for us. Maybe they’re too old-fashioned or too ordinary or too popular — three other girls in our class had the same name! Or too unusual — no one could pronounce it, no one could spell it, and you could never find it on personalized pencils or those cute little license plates. (Ahem!)
But Revelation 2:17 tells us something fascinating. God promises that to all who “overcome” in this life — who persevere through trials and tribulations, who remain faithful to Him — He will give the Bread of Heaven:
“I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name.”
A name that isn’t shared by a billion other people on this planet — a name that’s your very own. A name that’s just between you and Him. His name for you.
Think about that for a minute. Jesus knows who we are — who we really are — unmarred by sin and the scars of this life, in all our uniqueness, our true essence. Much, MUCH better than we even know ourselves. After all, He created us. He loves us — deeply, personally, passionately.
And He calls us by name. Both the one we recognize, the one we know — and the perfect name, the pet name He has for us.
In John 10:1-18, Jesus explains that He is the Good Shepherd and He knows His sheep. He enters the pasture and calls for those who belong to Him… one by one… by name. He calls us out from the rest of the herds — He knows we belong to Him. He calls us to leave all else behind and come away with Him.
Follow after Him.
Live in love with Him, forever.
This Week’s Assignment:
If you are participating in Summer in the Son — our online study of the Gospel of John:
Read John Chs 10-11. Take your time and really immerse yourself in the Word. (For tips on how to get the most out of your Bible study time, see Five Simple Ways to Focus on the Words You Read.)
Memorize John 10:9.
Today’s question: Just for fun! If you could have chosen your own name when you were in third grade — or if you could change it now –what name would you choose for yourself?