The Personal Tag. Daily devotional by Rick Christian
"Rejoice because your names are registered in heaven". Luke 10:20
I have a strange habit. Whenever I travel, the first thing I do upon checking into a hotel or stopping for gas is to open the local phone book. I want to know whether anyone else has my name. So far, no one has. But then, I have an unusual name: S. Rickly Christian.
That name, assigned by my parents, was written on a blue plastic bracelet and attached to my arm after birth. These bracelets, given to all babies, were the hospital’s way of ensuring that newborns wouldn’t accidentally get switched.
Later, that name was the first word I learned to scribble with crayons. It became the name my friends used when they shouted for me down a crowded hall; the name my coach bellowed when I didn’t swim fast enough; the name my girlfriend whispered in my ear, causing goose bumps on my neck.
More than any other label, my name symbolizes who I am: my personality, my dreams, my failures, my successes. And it’s so personal that my ears pop when I hear my name mentioned in conversation.
To know that my name, according to Luke, is a matter of celestial conversation causes my mind to explode! Are you sure, Luke? My name recorded in God’s Book of Life? I suppose God could keep roll more efficiently by using my social security number or bank account number.
Numbers are easier to program, less personal. But God evidently prefers to use names.
That preference, I think, reflects the kind of relationship he wants to build with us. It’s his way of assuring us that we matter; we’re not just some insignificant blip or code in the far corner of the universe.
Perhaps that is why the Bible is so full of long genealogies—God didn’t want to miss a single name!
God’s use of my name also signals his concern for the things my name represents: everything from my biggest hurts to my highest hopes.
My name, even in my e-mail address, reminds my friends of such things as the day we shared together at the beach, the time we cried when we learned of another friend’s cancer, the times we belly laughed at a good joke.
My name, I believe, triggers the same kinds of memories in God’s mind: the times we talked together in prayer, the times he comforted me after my parents’ deaths, the time I was dazzled by the splash of color he gave a cutthroat trout.
Looking back, I now know these were special times—times of getting to know each other on a first-name basis.