Being and Becoming Our Name

“Naming focuses the essential.” -Eugene Peterson

If you read the about section of this website, you read the abbreviated story of the power of a name. If not, you at least know it is by our name we respond to another, unless we pretend we do not hear it being called. Our names however, are not just words that become familiar just to get our attention, they are something we are invited to live into, which sometimes requires them to be changed or at least, to hear the name God gave us before our parents may have known.

We are all looking to hear our real name.

First, let’s begin with the name someone gave us when we were born. Not everyone likes their name and not every name fits who someone is. When I was younger, I thought my name was a bit strange but it actually fits who I am. Preston means, “Priest Town” or "Priest's Estate” and I am a priest, though not in the wearing of a clerical collar like a non-married minister of a church. “Priest” is a derivative of a Greek word that means “Elder.” Though I am still living into this reality, it is who I am and who I am becoming. Or as Eugene Peterson says,

“Names not only address what we are, the irreplaceably human, they also anticipate what we become. Names call us to become who we will be. A lifetime of growth and development is announced in a name.”

The good news is even if we do not fit into our birth names, God knows us by another one. There is a new name waiting for everyone to discover if they are willing to overcome all the inferior names and identities we have received, whether we wanted them or not. Overcoming the inferior names allows us to live into our real name where we are no longer a number but an authentic expression of who God meant when God meant you.

“At our birth we are named, not numbered.” -Eugene Peterson

As I write this, my firstborn son is sitting next to me reading a book. I saw him in a dream before he was born and before I ever met my wife, who would eventually house the beginning of his body's formation to bring forth his essence into the world. His possibility was named before I even knew what his name would be. When my wife and I prayed through what his name would be, we eventually heard “Courage.” He lives into his name and it is his essence. There was meaning and participation because we knew the power of a name.

The bible is filled with stories of people whose names were changed after significant journeys or experiences with God. These words I write are to inspire you to have Courage to journey with God in hearing your real name. It is to discover the name that you are called to live into, to become, to embody, and to know that name until it becomes flesh in your expressed life.

The name we will hear is both who we are and who we are becoming. It is something that speaks to who we actually are to be in the world and how we affect others and even how others can benefit by participating in each other's names. This is why participation in the name Jesus will make sense to why it is the name above all names.

Now, take some time to meditate on the following from George MacDonald where he talks about The New Name spoken of in Revelation.

"To the one who overcomes, I will give the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone inscribed with a new name, known only to the one who receives it." - Revelation 2:17

“In the passage about the gift of the white stone, we find the essence of religion. What the mystic meaning may be must be taken differently by different minds. I think the writer of Revelation sees in its whiteness, purity, and in its substance, indestructibility; but I care chiefly to regard the stone as the form whereby the name is represented as passing from God to man. The giving of the white stone with the new name is the communication of what God thinks about the man to the man. It is the divine judgment. The true name is one which expresses the character, the nature, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol, the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. To whom is this name given? To him that overcometh. When is it given? When he has overcome. Why does God wait till then? Just as repentance comes because God pardons, yet the man becomes aware of the pardon only in the repentance, so it is only when the man has become his name that God gives him the stone with the name upon it, for then first can he understand what his name signifies. God’s name for a man must then be the expression in a mystical word—a word of that language which all who have overcome understand—of his own idea of the man, that being whom he had in his thought when he began to make the child. To tell the name is to seal the success—to say, 'In thee also I am well pleased.'” (GM)

So dear reader, listen for your name. Ask God to reveal it. Watch how God actually leads you in understanding what it is. Trust the process, it will surely come. 

We shall overcome,

Preston Hall

Lion's Club

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