Names imply possession, relationship. You don’t name an animal unless you expect to keep it as a pet, to take ownership of it, to develop an attachment to, a connection with, or an affection for it. You don’t give names to people or things you never expect to call, whether it’s a nickname for a friend, a pet name for a significant other, or a stuffed animal from childhood. Names are born from an understanding of or a hope regarding the identity of their objects.
Several times in the Bible, God prescribes names for people before they are born, instructing their parents in the child’s identity. (Jesus, Isaac, Solomon, Hosea’s children…) He has this right because each person belongs to Him before belonging to the parents. Each life, each soul, is crafted by Him in eternity, outside of time (Psalms 139). He plants us on earth at the right time and in the right place to accomplish His purpose.
I use the singular form of “purpose” intentionally. As humans, our most persistent endeavor is the search for our own individual and collective purpose…and the largest roadblock on that journey is the misconception that our purpose is unique to ourselves. The purpose of humanity and its members is not to accomplish great tasks–to start a company, pass a law, raise a child, write a book, cure cancer, stop wars, end world hunger, etc. Our purpose fuels our projects, but our deeds are not our descriptors. They are merely tributaries, not springs.
Our purpose is to be loved by God. To grasp how high, how wide, how deep is the Father’s love (Ephesians 3:17-19). To know this love, to understand it, embrace it and walk in the reality of it is our purpose.
Since childhood, I believed my life was something special, or at least it would be someday once I did something truly important. I was right about being special, about having value, but wrong about why. I have value because I have a name, a name given me by my Father that only He knows. This name was mine before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4)
Even then I belonged to my Father.
Even then He loved me.
Even then He knew me, wanted me, accepted me, treasured me, believed in me, waited for me.
He waited for the day He could plant my soul on earth, watch me grow, bud and blossom into His child. He waited for the day He could call my name and I would answer Him, follow Him, accept His love and find my purpose.
My purpose is not to do, but to be.
So is yours.
“The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. I and the Father are one.”
John 10:2-4, 30 NIV