Of the Linden Tree

What’s in a name? The Montagues and Capulets were certainly wrapped up in ancestral dispute because of it. Though Shakespeare’s story is fictional, there have been plenty of real killings done in the name of names (pun intended.)

Though in some countries, leadership is still chosen by the joint claims of name and blood, we all know that names do not define a person. If they did, I would look like this and act appropriately tree-like (my name means “of the linden tree.”) One’s character, personality, mannerisms, and present and future pursuits have nothing to do with the meaning of one’s given title, except by coincidence.

And yet, God evidently adores the process of naming. All throughout Scripture, the act of naming mirrors a person’s identity.

Abraham is “father of many”
Peter is “rock”
Jesus is “Yahweh saves,” called Immanuel, “God with us”

God directly intervenes in the naming process numerous times throughout Scripture. And often, He changes someone’s name as a result of their newly established calling in life.

God is even going to reinstate this process. He has a new name to bestow on each of us when we enter heaven!

Revelation 2:17b says,

“And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.”

This name will cast you in a light that only you and God will understand. Your new name will be more a part of you than your own skin. It will reach so deep into the core of who you are, that no one will recognize you by that name, because no one but God knows you that intimately.

Though we have dropped the cultural sacredness of naming, there is still so much strife in finding and establishing our identities on this earth. In effect, we are trying to name ourselves, an act that can only be done by our Creator. Do you know how far off the track you could be from who you really are? Who do you think you are? A prophet? God?

I suppose it’s no accident that a few hours after I began writing on the subject of naming, I stumbled upon the idea as I read the last few pages of The Call.

George Macdonald writes:

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. It is the blossom, the perfection, the completeness, that determines the name: and God foresees that from the first because He made it so: but the tree of the soul, before its blossom comes, cannot understand what blossom it is to bear and could not know what the word meant, which, in representing its own unarrived completeness, named itself.

Such a name cannot be given until the man is the name. God’s name for the man must be the expression of His own idea of the man, that being whom He had in his thought when he began to make the child, and whom He keeps in His thought through the long process of creation that went to realize the idea. To tell the name is to seal the success—to say “In thee also I am well pleased.”

Before reading this, I was struggling to figure out how to conclude this post. I think what God is getting at and that what I am trying to grasp is that we don’t need to figure ourselves out. Introspective people like myself find this a hard thing to accept. But not only do I not need to try to shape Lindsey into the ideal. I simply cannot.

That is God’s job, my friends. And when I interfere, I’m meddling with the mystery of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.

You know what gets me extra excited about all this? Whenever God changed someone’s name in the Bible, it sets the person on course for life. Their mission and being is zoned into laser-beam focus.

When God gives us our names when we reach heaven, we will know who we are for all of eternity. This is one of many proofs that heaven is a home of new beginnings, not some dreary end.

Heaven is not some harp-plucking, wing-flapping Joel Osteen picture book.

Heaven is where the un-truths are unveiled and reality is all we see. We are finally free to be ourselves. Our true selves. Action will burst from our newly realized identities.

But for now, all I know is that I am a child of God and I have much to learn skittering about on sacred ground. Will I lay down the pressures I feel to name myself, to shape my own identity, or will I let God mold and name me as His ultimate goodness sees fit?

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