By Ruth Ann Replogle, Columnist
Enid News and Eagle
I recently read an Associated Press story about more than 200 girls in India who chose new names for themselves. They were part of a renaming ceremony held by Save the Girl Child, to help give them a fighting chance against widespread gender discrimination. Several shed their birth names such as Nakusa or Nakushi — which mean “unwanted” in Hindi — and took new names such as Ashmita (“strong” or “very tough”) or Vaishali (“beautiful” or “good”).
The gist of the article indicated the nation as a whole prefers boys to girls because various Hindu practices dictate the significance of male roles in culture and society.
It got me to thinking about how important names are.
My parents named me Ruth after the Moabite widow in the Bible. She became the great-grandmother of King David, therefore was an ancestor of Jesus Christ. She was an outsider, not part of the chosen race, yet she integrated into Jewish society and was known for her faithfulness. Coincidentally, my mother-in-law’s name is Norma (whereas Ruth’s mother-in-law was Naomi).
Ruth has Hebrew origin and ranges in meanings including “friend,” “companion,” “beloved,” “favor,” “grace,” “mercy,” “sympathy” or “compassion.” Alternate spellings are Rue, Rewen, Ruethe and Ruthie.
Maybe your mom or dad chose your name because of the specific meaning behind it. Or perhaps they named you after the trending movie star or novel character. Or maybe they didn’t have a rhyme or reason to your name other than they simply liked the sound of it.
Whatever the case, our names are critical to our way of life in the U.S., from job applications to loans, from social interaction to personal identification.
Did you realize God knows you by name? Dwell on this thought for a moment! The Creator of the universe intimately knows you and has known your name since you were conceived in your mother’s womb.
Reflect on these verses in Isaiah — “But now the Lord who created you, O Israel, says, ‘Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.’” (Isaiah 43:1) and “I have written your name on My hand.” (Isaiah 49:16)
I’m repeatedly struck with awe in John 11 when Jesus called out Lazarus’ name and rose him from the dead. The gospel group Karen Peck and New River sings about this in “Four Days Late” — “You may be fighting a battle of fear. You’ve cried to the Lord ‘I need you now’ but He has not appeared. Friend, don’t be discouraged, cause He’s still the same. He’ll soon be here, He’ll roll back the stone and HE’LL CALL OUT YOUR NAME.”
Christian author Max Lucado wrote a book titled “When God Whispers Your Name.” I cried when I read it for the first time as a summer missionary in 1996. The overall theme is God takes you as you are, wherever you are. One line in chapter seven says it all: “I’ve never been surprised by God’s judgment, but I’m still stunned by His grace.”
His grace is reflected throughout Scripture, woven into every tale written in His Word. And you’ll notice when the Lord speaks, He clearly addresses the person He’s talking to by name ... not his title, not her station, but name.
We are valuable to Him, of interest to Him, celebrated by Him. The bottom line? You are important enough to Him, He will call out your name.
Just Hold On is written by Ruth Ann Replogle and published every Friday in the Enid News & Eagle. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.