I was taking the trash out in my place tonight. I walked down the steps to the garbage bin and saw a cat leap off and then run away from me. It stared at me for awhile after I threw away my trash. I got down to indicate for it to come my way, but the cat had no desire. It just watched. I came closer and it ran off.
As I went back upstairs forlorn, a thought occurred to me. That cat might not even have a name. I was hit with a degree of sadness upon thinking that. A name is given to one who matters. A name indicates that one is to be set apart from the rest. This is one reason why we can be bothered in public when someone else has the same name as we do.
This is the glory of naming. It allows us to make distinctions. When Adam called a dog a dog, then that was its name. The dog was different from all the other animals. When he said, “dog”, he knew what he meant. He did not mean a small creature that says “Meow.” There’s nothing wrong with that creature of course, but it is not a dog.
What about your name? I know what my name means and I take delight in it. When reading Scripture, it is important to pay attention to names. The names meant so much back then. That is why names were so often given by God. The parents didn’t just look through a baby book. The names meant something about the child.
We can see this in the VA tech shootings. To the gunman, they were probably just faces in the crowd. To us though, we have seen their names. We know them now. It wasn’t just a statistic then. These were real people that died that day. These were ones set apart from everyone else.
I saw this just yesterday in my own self. I went to get some photos done for my application to Seminary. The photographer and I looked through the shots on his computer and I got hit with a jolt. That name he keeps saying is me and that person on the screen is me.
I would even compare it in some ways to what an out-of-body experience could be like. I was really speaking about myself in a way the ancients never probably could. That image on the screen points to a person with actual existence. Have we ever really marveled at the wonder that we really exist?
The Bible tells us also that God knows our names. They are written on his hands. He will give us a stone one day with a name known only to the holder and to God. Could this be a name for us? Maybe. If it’s a name for God though, it’s done to indicate his uniqueness to all others.
This is a great joy that should mesmerize us. God knows our name. When you pray, he knows who it is that is praying. It is not a faceless soul out there. It is a person. Your name makes you unique from all others. God said Job was unique and there was no one else like him. I wager he could say the same for all of us.
Tonight, celebrate your name. You are set apart from all others by it.