I attended a friend’s senior college recital this weekend, and afterwards was listening as her father prayed a blessing before eating. He spent quite some time thanking God for his daughter and her effort over the last four years. Maybe it is because I also have a daughter graduating college this year, but I heard something in the way he said his daughter’s name and even the word “her”. He was not talking about any “Rachel” or any “her”. He was talking about Rachel. He was talking about Her.
I’m sure that this father, just like me, experiences a whole lot more when he hears or speaks the word “Rachel” or “her” than just the hearing of the words. Time skips a beat when he gets that name — that bookmark to his heart — handed to his mind. As soon as his mind realizes that this word is about Her, he has to pause to consider the 20 or so versions of Her that still dwell in his thoughts. The name causes him to remember the 2-year-old Her who waited at the door for him to come home from work. The name causes him to consider the 6-year-old Her who thought the world was wonderful and who just knew that Snow White was real. Every time the name is mentioned, he runs through every version of Her in his heart, paying tribute to Her, reminding every memory of Her that it is still important.
Okay, maybe I’m not talking about His Her, anymore, but my Her. I’m sure, though, that I heard something in that father’s prayer that connected him and his love for his daughter to me and my love for mine.
Isn’t it wild how God made us so that names — mere words — start becoming so much more when we love someone? You can say “Deanna” and be referring to the word, or you can say Deanna and be referring to Her, and it is a world of difference. When it’s Deanna, there’s 30 years’ worth of living that gives the word significance. It’s a bookmark to my heart. Just like Medley is. Just like Rusty is. You say one of these words to me and the world gets so big that I get lost in it.
Maybe you haven’t thought about this before, but just try jotting down the names of some people you love and notice what happens when you read them. They are NOT just words. They are bookmarks to your heart. They are comfort food.
How about the word Jesus. This word, when spoken to me 20 years ago, would have aggravated me to no end. It would have been a bookmark to guilt and judgement. It would have made me feel like you were trying to put shackles on my wrists just by uttering the word.
Not anymore! Now the word means Freedom. It is the name of my Peace and Safety. It is the name of my Redeemer and my King. If you sing His name to me and mean it, you can make me swoon. Jesus is the name I want to wallow in.
It seems that God, too, enjoys his children’s names. In fact, when we get to Heaven, He will show us the secret name that He has chosen just for us. It’s hard to imagine that God’s consideration of my name (or yours) thrills His heart more than the mention of any name thrills mine, but it’s true, and it’s true because of Jesus. The cross made a way for God to be thrilled about us. The cross makes our name a bookmark into God’s heart.
Thank you, God, for Rachel, for Deanna, for Medley, for Rusty, and for Jesus, and for the thrill the love for others brings us when we hear their names. Like all of Your designs, that was a very cool idea.