I want to double down on something I said yesterday:
There is a place in this world for your brand of quirky.– Lily Fields, modern day wise woman
You are special. You are unique. You bring something to the table that no one else does. No one in all human history ever possessed the same recipe of geekiness, goofiness, talent, vice, virtue and exasperatingness.
You are the product of many immutable forces over which no one in your life had any control: where you were born, who you were born to, the era you were born into. You are the product of generations of DNA-scrambling, with the signature brown eyes or curly hair or freckles or extra toes that dominated them.
You are a product of the people you grew up with. I was fortunate to meet my best friend when I was five years old, and she was, as my father liked to say, “a good egg.” Our Mary Lou Retton routines in the back yard when we were seven still inspire me today to try and impress my children with my (ahem) prowess.
You are unique because of your experiences, many of them rich with emotion. Steeped in fear, anguish, torment. Or carrying the sweet fragrance of lust and connection.
You are also unique because of the experiences that left you cold and unmoved. The times you were bored or disappointed.
What you have is special. It is crucial. Without you, even though I don’t know you personally, this place would be way less awesome. You are not a random occurrence. You are not a mistake.
What’s your name?
Not the name on your birth certificate. Depending on your name, there may be dozens of you, thousands of you. Maybe more.
Not the one on your driver’s license. If you chose to change your name when you got married, then no matter how much you love your new name, you may not be the only one out there.
Not your nom de plume. I can guarantee you that of “Lily Fields”, there are plenty.
No, what’s your name, the one that the Creator of the Universe uses when he thinks about you?
That’s a lot of numbers
When I read the Bible, I tend to get snagged on little things. Like whether or not Jesus would have folded the sheet after he was resurrected and if Mary would have been embarrassed had he not.
Or just how much I totally get the guy who dug a hole in his back yard to bury the gold he was given. I like firm, clear direction and expectation-setting, along with enthusiastic consent. This guy wasn’t given a chance for any of those things. He didn’t know what he was agreeing to!
Before I digress further, here is one of those snags for me:
“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”
Psalms 147:4 NIV
My very first thoughts when I read that is: A. What would roll call with the stars look like and B. How long would it take and C. I hope God remembers their names.
I’m okay with stars having names. Now, on the other hand, that’s a lot of stars to be naming. How many stars? ESA says a lot. More than I am comfortable pretending to even understand.
Would God have a cheat sheet with all those names on it? Would it be like a graduation ceremony, and every star would shake God’s hand and pose for a photo? Or more like a red carpet?
Journalist: “Who are you wearing today?”
Star: “This is Orion’s Belt…”
I am someone who loves to use people’s names. Being called by my name is one of my Love Languages. Yet, I’m a parent of two children and I cannot, for the life of me, ever spit out the correct name at the right time.
I find myself feeling sorry for God, for having to remember all those names. And those are just the stars in the sky!
That’s a lot of people
As of 8:58PM Central European Summer Time on April 12, 2021, there were 7858602302 people living on Earth, with more being added after I copied the number. That’s more than seven and a half billion.
A cursory Google search told me that in all of history, there have been an estimated 108000000 Homo Sapiens in the last 50000 years. That’s one hundred and eight billion.
That’s a lot of names to keep straight. And yet:
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Luke 12:7 NIV
And (presuming you are willing to imagine each person as a sheep)
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
John 10:3 NIV
You have a name
Some time in 2005, in the middle of my prayer time, is when the immensity of this snag caught me. I couldn’t let it go. I obsessed over it. I could not believe that it was possible that I was worthy of having my hair counted or being called by name. Not by the same God who could name each of the stars.
“I have called you by your name, you are mine…” that quiet voice whispered to me. I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it.
“Then what is my name?” I challenged back.
I know, I know. This all sounds so esoteric and weird, but as I have said before, this kind of proximity and intimacy with God is something that I neither understand nor do I deserve. It is simply a gift that I treasure.
That quiet voice answered me. The voice did not use the name on my birth certificate. The voice did not use my married name. The voice did not use my nom de plume.
The name I heard rocked me to the core of my being. I cannot, I will not ever share with anyone what that name was. It was such a raw, intimate secret, filled with so much affection and tenderness. Even now, reliving that moment, I can’t do it without tears.
The name was not just a name, it was accompanied by an image. That image I can describe: it was of a creamy pale pink cabbage rose exploding from bud into bloom.
Let me tell you something: Once you know your name, once you know how the Creator of the Universe sees you when he looks at you, there is no way you can continue to live the way you did before.
It may not heal all your wounds, not immediately, at least. It won’t immediately change your attitude. It won’t solve your marriage problems or financial difficulties.
Once you hear your name, though, you will never be the same.
I so desperately want you to experience that. I want you to have a moment of divine clarity so that you no longer doubt that you have a place and a purpose. It starts with a question: “What’s my name?”
You wait for the answer. You wait for it as long as it takes. You will get an answer. This is the kind of question God loves to answer, because it draws you into a one-on-one conversation with him. You aren’t asking him for anything other than to know how he sees you.
This is the kind of thing that makes God smile. And as I said yesterday, his smile is the only reward that will ever fill you up.
This article is part of a series called Bags of Gold. If you want to get caught up:
Part One: The Shame of Plenty
Part Two: My Bags of Gold
Part Three: What’s in a Name? (You are here.)
Part Four: On Heaven and Dinosaur Poop
Part Five; Just Blame Me, Okay?
Part Six: You used to Sparkle
Part Seven: She Sparkles: an interview with Izabela Rabehanta
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