In His Redemption, God Gives Us a New Name
by Heather Bock
Little E wants us to call her by a new name–well, not exactly new–she wants us to call her by her real name, not by her shortened name. People, not thinking about the effect, have made fun of her name too many times. As a result, she wants to switch to her full, unique, untainted given name. Her shortened name has become an object of ridicule in her mind; her full name is one of dignity. I’ve been calling her by her shortened name for seven and a half years, so it’s not easy to make the change, let me tell you. I’m willing to do it, though, because a name is vital.
Your name is who you are. It is tied to your identity.
I can’t help but think of Johnny Cash’s song, “A Boy Named Sue.” If you haven’t heard it, you’ve got to listen to it here. In the song, a boy was named Sue. His father had left the family when Sue was young, and he resented the dad his whole life for giving him a girl’s name. At the end of the song, Sue finally meets his father, when he learns the reason for the name was to make him tough since he wouldn’t be there to raise him. Yes, Sue’s name made him who he was, but just like Little E, he still would have changed it if he could have–he said he’d name his son any boy name, just as long as it wasn’t Sue.
God renamed some of His children. God changed the name of Abram, which meant “exalted father” to Abraham–“father of a multitude” (Gen. 17:5). Abram already had a name of honor, but God wanted to remind him the rest of his days that He would fulfill His promise to him, a promise to make him a father of many nations.
At the same time that God changed Abram’s name, He changed his wife Sarai’s name, a change that had the same meaning as Abram’s. Her name meant “my princess,” and God changed it to Sarah, “princess.” At first, she was only the princess of her family, but afterwards, she would be become the princess of a multitude. Whenever she was tempted to laugh at the idea of many descendants coming from her tired-out body, Abraham only had to call her name, and she could remember the promise that would be fulfilled.
It probably took a while for Abram and Sarai to remember each other’s new names, just as it’s hard for us to remember what Little E wants to be called. During that awkward transition, both were forced to remember again and again the reason for the change, cementing it into their minds.
Heading into the New Testament, we find Simon, a name that means “he has heard,” whom Jesus renamed “Peter,” which means, “a rock,” and upon that rock Jesus said He would build His church (Matt. 16:18). Simon is special because throughout the gospels, Simon is often called Simon Peter. He was able to keep the positive name of “one who has heard.” After all, didn’t he hear and listen to the voice of God Himself? However, he also received a new name affirming his full identity, even when he didn’t always act like a rock. Remember his triple denial? Jesus knew he’d turn back, and I love how He predicted the denials in Luke 22:34, using the name Peter while He said it. He affirmed him even while he predicted his failure.
The new names God gives show redemption and grace.
Several years ago, I looked into the meaning of my own name. I knew I was named after a flower, but I don’t have much experience with heather, as I don’t live near the moors of Scotland. I was always under the impression that the heather flower wasn’t of much value.
It turned out to be more valuable than I thought. It’s beautiful because it covers barren places with color. It’s a sweet-smelling plant, used as an aromatic. It’s a hardy plant, one with much endurance, thriving in many soil types, in wet and dry conditions, and in high and low temperatures. It’s a prolific plant, covering large areas and sending out an abundance of seeds. It’s a useful plant, providing shelter for birds and other small animals; food for grazing animals; medicine for many ailments; color for dyes; flavor for drinks; and strong wood for houses, long-lasting roofs, brooms, ladders, and much more.
I can only hope I will live up to the honor my name bestows me. I hope my spirit under God’s care will grow to be beautiful, that my prayers will rise as a sweet incense before God. I hope I will prove to endure in my faith in all conditions throughout my life. I hope I will spread seeds of life far and wide, both in my everyday living and through this blog. I long to be useful–I have often prayed that God would use me.
You might not have a name with a meaning you love, but did you realize that you have a new name prepared for you? Jesus says in Revelation 2:17, “To him who overcomes, to him I will give…a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” He gives us names full of beauty, restoration, and life. Instead of “Not My People,” we will be called “Sons of the Living God” (Hos. 1:9-10).
If God has clearly given you a new name, will you share it in the comments below?
0 thoughts on “In His Redemption, God Gives Us a New Name”
You really made me think about the meaning of names. So I looked up my name, Elaine (I go by my middle name), and it means “LIGHT”. I also looked up my first name which is Margaret & it said it means “PEARL”. I guess I am a Pearl of Light. I like that!
This article is so insightful! Thank you. God bless you!!
Nice! What a beautiful meaning, Elaine!
I was surprised when you told me you didn’t like your name in the past! I always loved heather, the flower, & you! 😉 My name means “precious gem” and Isaiah 43:4a says, “You are precious in my sight, and I love you.”
I liked my name, but I didn’t think the flower itself was very impressive until I learned more about it! I love the name Amber, and I think I told you I would have named Little E Amber if our last name wasn’t Bock!
Heather I love this post as my oldest also 7 wants to go by his full name instead of his shortened nickname. It is a hard transition to make but I like his full name hence naming him that. I don’t know that I feel God has given me a new name at this time. But I do know God uses you in many many ways, daily. Thank you for your friendship and sisterhood.
Thanks, Beccy! Yes, I like Little E’s full name, too, so I’m especially ok with calling her that.
When I was saved I came from a grossly sinful world and Jenifer is mh given name. About 5 years after God saved me I was reading about Abraham and Sarah.
I studied a little and learned the “ah” sound added to Abraham was God giving part of his name to him. “Yah”weh.
I prayed and asked God to give me a new name for my new life. That was 11 years ago. Since then I have been called Jenna – jenn “ah”
Not for everyone but precious to me.
Thanks for sharing.
What is Little E’s name???
That’s beautiful!!! I had never heard that! I love what God did for you by literally changing your name in the same way. I’m so glad you shared this. God is so good!
Sorry I don’t say my daughter’s name here. I knew that might frustrate someone–it would certainly make ME curious! I don’t use my kids’ names on my public blog in order to protect them in some way. 😊
No problem 😉 thanks
Hi Heather! I love this post… so beautiful. It reminds me of when we changed our youngest son’s name from Dakota Lincoln to Hezekiah Jason. He was a few months old when we officially made the switch, and I remember writing a letter to all our family and friends and started out by saying, “Names are important to the Lord…” and went on to describe all the names changes as you did in your post. Love the reminder that we are important to the Lord. For me, it wasn’t so much my name that changed, but I clearly heard him told me I was his beautiful daughter (specifically, Psalm 45:10-11) after growing up in a home where I was continually told I was ugly and unwanted. That verse, and more importantly that term of endearment, means the world to me.
Oh wow, Darby! It breaks my heart to think of anyone calling you ugly or unwanted! I’m thankful for God’s redemption for you.
What brought about the name change for Hezekiah?
When I was a young woman, my nickname was Red, often Big Red behind my back, because of my fiery personality and my attraction to that color. Over the years, God softened my heart, quenched my furious flames, and I began identifying with “A Softer Shade of Red”. How funny that so many years later, I married a Redmon. Now my name really is Red, but it has a whole new meaning for me. God is good!
Wow–the way God works amazes me every time. I love how He brings us full circle! If that’s not something straight out of great literature, I don’t know what is. We are all characters in the greatest story ever told!
This is beautiful! I love that names are so important and I love finding out the meanings of names. But your post made me stop and wonder–what was it like for Abraham and Sarah to start using their God-given names? What must have it been like to live into those names in faith, when life felt like the opposite of what they meant. Great post, it’s giving me a lot to think about!
This post was the first time I started thinking about that, too! Using the names was a step of faith!
Oh, and thank you, Melissa!
Oh, I loved this! Although I love my full name – Laurienne -it is always mispronounced as Laverne or Lauraine and I HATED that. I was called Laurie but I always thought of “borie Laurie” and that’s no fun either. So, now I go by Lauren which means Laurel Crowned – like the Olympic athletes. But now as I study the Hebrew letters and I’ve learned of their word pictures I LOVE the letter representation of my name. Lamed = Leader, teacher, Resh = Authority, Nun = Life. So, my name means a leader/teacher authority of life. Totally me!
BTW, Heather, your name would be Behold a Mark of Authority. Not bad.
Hey – Window, Behold
Tav – A mark like a signature
Resh – Authority
Wow, Lauren, thank you for telling me what my name means in Hebrew! I know nothing about what each letter means. I’d love to study Hebrew! I have been marked by God’s authority–marked for Him. I learned once that Tav is like an x, like a Greek cross. Is that true?
I love the meaning of your name in Hebrew–beautiful!
Heather, your post reminded me of the meaning of names and how God has made my name lovely. When I was younger I never liked being called by my full name only because my older brother would pick on me or say my name in a mean or degrtory way. However thankfully this only lasted for a little while, but after that and still to this day I prefer being called Liz. Even though my name Elizabeth means consecrated and my middle name ashley means harmony.
It’s a beautiful name! When I was in middle school, I didn’t like my middle name Beth for a very ugly, middle school reason I’m ashamed of now. I wanted it changed to Elizabeth at the time. I’m glad now to have the names I have.
Names do hold so much weight. I love your willingness to call little E by her full name as she grows in her own identity. My name has always had a ton of bad or very mixed emotions attached to it, but a nickname never stuck and I usually just did my best to be so attentive that no one ever had to say my name! Right around the time I asked Jesus to save me Matt started with a nickname that has stuck- just “B.” I’ve associated just “B” with “just God’s” since then- so I guess that’s the “new name” I cherish in this lifetime : ) Thanks for the thought-provoking post and question!
What a beautiful story! B–it’s exactly what we need to do with Jesus–just be with Him. I love it!
So powerful and true. Reminds me of our distinct identity in Christ and how he chose us <3
I’m so thankful for the identity we have in Him!
I love this. Identity is crucial! Relationships and purpose can flourish from understanding our true identity, If our current name doesn’t line up with that identity, it is comforting to know God has one just for us! Loved that!
Thanks, Tiffany! I love how God cares about this–names ARE so important to our identity