The Name Game


Does anyone remember, “The Name Game” song that the singer Shirley Ellis recorded? 

The lyrics were a little strange… ok, a lot strange. They start, “Shirley! Shirley, Shirley, Bo-ber-ley, bo-na-na fanna, Fo-fer-ley, fee fi mo-mer-ley, Shirley!. It’s a catchy little ditty with some fun rhythms and a song where you can supposedly put anyone’s name in the lyric. Try it. I’ll wait. (You can try YouTube if you need help – I did!).

As I was updating a list of prayer needs for our Church newsletter, I realized that there are a lot of names that are common first names. For instance: How many “Linda”s do you know? How about Dianne, Barbara, Susan, Beth, Karen, Mary? And for the men: “David, John, Jack, Bill, Pat, Steve, Charlie? (Side note: my husband is a “Charlie” and we take note of how many tv shows have at least one character with his first name)

Here are some harder-to-find names – see if they are in your circle of friends or family: Adeline, Letitia, Tamara, Philomena, Raveeni. I can say that I know women with those names.

And what about guys? Do you know a, Jerome, Rheaume, Ari, Kwami, Percieval, Clemoth or Scooby? I can tell you that I know a Snoopy (not the cartoon character!) Yes, a family member gave their son that moniker. Names are very important to us.

They identify us to our family, our society and our own self-image. When someone calls your name, you know it’s a clearly defined, directed call. Occasionally, we have to be even more specific because some names are so common. An example in the Bible, is when some people were identified by their parentage: “Simon Bar-Jonah” means, “Simon, son of Jonah”. My Italian friends would often have to qualify their conversations with “Tony’s Pat”, versus “Angelo’s Pat” and for the same family, we’d identify their sisters/cousins as “Vita #1, #2 or #3!

In our family there are four generations of the name “Gordon”. My great-uncle, my Father, my brother and nephew. My Dad was “Gord”, my brother was “Gordie” and my nephew is “Gordie III”. It’s confusing for some folks, but not uncommon for some families.

Were you given a “pet-name” or nickname as a child? Some nicknames we’d like to forget, but often they can simply make it easier to identify which “Bob” or “Debbie” you mean. You’ve probably heard, “Chuck”, Billy, or “Smiley”. In French class we were told that calling someone “Petit chou” was a compliment. It means “Little cabbage”. Well, ummm, ok.

Here’s the thing:

Today, you might think that God has forgotten you or refuses to respond to your prayers. You feel abandoned, alone, insignificant. You wonder, “Does God even hear me? Do I matter to Him?

But I have Good news: God knows you and calls you… by name! He isn’t confused by how many have the same name as yours. He knows you from the inside-out and has a clear idea of who you are, no matter how common your name might be. You’re one-of-a-kind!

In the New Testament book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul talks about adoption. He says in chapter one, verse four and five,  Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (New Living Translation). What an amazing thought, that God decided, “… in advance to adopt us”!

Always loved

Are you feeling neglected? Forgotten? Separated from God? Think you’ve gotten too far away from God to be part of His family? Here’s what God spoke through the prophet Isaiah when Israel had broken their promises to God: “Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”

One of my Professors, Luciano Lombardi, wrote a book entitled, “A New Humanity – a Walk through Ephesians” and in it, he describes the incredible truth that, God has adopted us. He says, “… the adoption papers are all ready”. All the legalities are finalized because Jesus paid for it all with His own life. Now, God’s waiting for you to WANT to be adopted, to sign the papers, to begin your new life in His family“. You are no longer a slave, but a child of God, an heir, part of God’s Royal family, with all the rights and privileges of being a family member. The bible even supports that God has a new name for you (see Rev. 2:17 7).

From what I understand, a parent doesn’t forget that they have given birth to a child. Neither does God.

The One who created you, loves you, has never forgotten you and never will.

He’s simply waiting for you to “sign the adoption papers” and start your life as a member of His family.

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