A bit of unexpected food for thought this week. Have you ever explored the meaning of your name? Do you use the same name for God when you pray to Him or does it change depending on what your prayer is about? Does it surprise you or confuse you when God is referred to with a different name in the Bible, such as Sovereign or Host?
The Study Guide
Recently I picked up a short study guide.
Since following the Bible Reading blog posts I’ve developed a deeper interest in understanding the meaning of God’s word and how it all knits together in such a fascinating and relevant way.
The study guide was going for free and seemed like a good plan to keep my attention span, but mainly it was the title that interested me. It was called ‘Names of God – Glimpses of His Character’ by Douglas Connelly.
To be perfectly honest with you, I still haven’t read the guide. But it might be one to get stuck into alongside someone else, when they can reign me in a bit and stop my mind from wandering.
The trouble is, I had a completely different viewpoint from the author, right from the start. It read:
‘We might be named in honour of a grandmother or some famous person, but our names don’t have much meaning or significance beyond that.’quote from “Names of God” by Douglas Connelly
And well, that started off a right rant in my head!
You see at the time I was going through a process of reflecting on what my name was, how it identified me and what I should change my name to. Quite out of the blue, my name was bothering me.
I’ll come back to this shortly. For now, I feel it’s important to clarify that the author was writing to the majority, and he wasn’t wrong in what he was saying.
Glimpses of His Character
In the introductory lines of a book, no writer could possibly address everyone’s personal experiences or opinions, he just had to get his point across and he had raised a really insightful point that was true no matter what background you came from.
The names of God in the Bible had deep significance to the authors and they still have personal meaning to people today.
Just the title of this little study guide helped increase my awareness of what the names of God mean and prompted me to explore this further in my readings.
I also noticed that I was now addressing God as Father in my prayers, something I had never felt able to do before.
I’d started to understand what others in church meant when they addressed God as Sovereign.
When I came across the word Host, instead of skim reading over it, I looked up the meaning so I could understand God more.
I’d encourage you to explore how many different names God has in the Bible and also take a look at the YouTube link to the apparent ‘Gospel Conflicts’. This short video explains so well why just because Christians see things differently, it doesn’t make the truth of God inconsistent. It’s us, we’re different and that’s ok, it’s how we were made.
Now where was I…?
The girl with no name
I’ve been a right old mardy bum these last couple of weeks. (in the words of a true Sheffield lass!) I’ve seen a post going round about wishing my mum would knock me into next year! That has definitely been me lately!
It’s a changing season. We’re all sick of the words “stay safe.” We’re sick of being told what we can and can’t do and it feels like the year has passed us by.
It’s absolutely understandable to forget at times that we’re a child of God and just feel blummin’ miserable.
As if lockdown restrictions and being away from distant friends and family isn’t challenging enough, there’s a few life changes going on for me right now and a bit of empty nest syndrome kicking in.
I was already feeling conscious that the summer had passed us by, Em had started college and Will would soon be off in the army. And then my ex husband got remarried.
Quite literally overnight, family dynamics seemed to turn on their head and I suddenly felt like an imposter having the same surname as his new wife. It was so strange.
We hadn’t been together for twelve years and had more of a brother and sister relationship, so it wasn’t losing him that had knocked me. It was the realisation that I wasn’t really a Mirfin anymore. My surname was now for someone else to make a fresh start with. And my children were no longer bothered what surname their mum had, they were becoming independent anyway.
So, what about the name I was born with? I hadn’t been Sarah Chambers since 1999. That was pre millennium! And besides, it was my dad’s name. That stirred up a whole host of other emotions. Who was I?
I forgot for a moment that I was my father’s daughter and just read and prayed and read and prayed some more and came running back to Him for comfort and direction. My identity was in no earthly man. My identity was in Him.
So, I am changing my name, but I’m just dropping the last name. I did do a random selection of surnames, which felt fun to try out, but essentially it was just a bit weird.
So, it’s just Sarah Louise, and that feels like me.
Thoughts for the next season
So why am I telling you this?
Well partly, it’s just a practical thing. I’m just letting you know in case you need to refer to my surname.
But also, I hadn’t expected to feel the way I did about recent events, not for one minute had I thought there was anything significant about my surname, until I felt like I didn’t have one. There is something significant about how someone identifies themselves and a name isn’t just a name.
Thirdly, it’s highlighted for me again that people see the world differently in different circumstances, but there is one we can depend on.
He is all things, He is Sovereign, He is our Father, our provider, our comforter, and our friend. And above all, He is constant, no matter what the changing seasons.