“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
I love this opening line from a C.S. Lewis book. It always makes me smile.
It makes me think of the name my university students far too graciously gave me when we first arrived in China many years ago:
“Sweet Smile” (甜 笑).
But, then, if I had book written about my first year in Asia, my opening line would read, “There once was a girl named Sweet Smile, and she didn’t really deserve it.”
My students saw something in me that I couldn’t always see. I was struggling with adjusting to life in Asia: learning how to navigate outdoor meat markets, chasing rats in our apartment, and wrestling each meal to get food to my mouth with two thin little sticks. Inside I was homesick and lonely. But, they saw a sweet smile. I don’t think I was faking it with them. I think they saw the potential of who I could be.
Whose voice holds power in your life to tell you who you are? What names do you hear?
Do you hear: “You are not good enough for this work. Who let you get into this ministry anyway? You are ‘Not Enough.’’’
Or, do you wonder if your name is “Most Spiritual One,” as people in your passport country say, “We could never do what you do, Most Spiritual One.’”
Do you wonder if your name is “Discontent,” as you struggle to find satisfaction and peace in the place where you serve and the Enemy whispers, “You never will find it…because you are Discontent.”
Is your name “Perfection,” as you joyfully homeschool, bake homemade pies, keep a spotless home, and grow your own vegetables?
Or, maybe you are called “Successful” because you have seen much fruit in your ministry, you regularly run marathons, or you see your name on the title of a book.
Perhaps you think your name is “Precarious” because one day you’ve got it all together, but the next day you don’t, and you surely don’t want anyone to see who you really are.
Who determines your name?
The Enemy loves to give us names that keep our eyes locked on ourselves — either pridefully elevating ourselves…or reducing us to the rubble of our broken, sinful hearts.
Jesus invites you to receive a different name. He invites you to receive a name that has nothing to do with you and everything to do with Him. He invites you to take your eyes off yourself, and find your true name.
He calls you: “Beloved.”
The world and other people and the enemy will try to tell you many things about who you are. They will try to give you names that demand that you have more, do more.
Or, maybe they will tell you that you are totally amazing and that, wow, God is sure lucky to have you on his team. Or, maybe they will tell you that you are only the sum of your selfish heart, and you are really not worth much at all.
The world will say that WHO you are is determined by WHAT you do.
Jesus invites you to hear your rightful name: Beloved.
Jesus says, “You are mine. And I love you more than you even begin to know.”
The world says, “You are just kind of Average. You are not really that interesting.”
Jesus says, “Please come and sit with me and tell me everything on your heart. I always want to be with you.”
The world says, “You better be deserving of love. Don’t let anyone see who you really are.”
Jesus says, “I loved you when you put the crown of thorns on my head and killed me. There is nothing that can separate you from my unending love.”
Oh, how we need to soak in our true name! You are so dearly, dearly loved. Live into that name! You are His Beloved. And it has nothing to do with how fruitful your work is, how much support you raise, how well-behaved your kids are, or how well you speak the language. It also has nothing to do with how much you serve, or how kind you are, or how generous you are with your resources.
He delights in YOU.
He sees you as you are, but also as you will be. And He cannot wait to be with you every minute of every day.
Do you know how much He treasures you? Do you know that his name for you — Beloved — reflects not only who you are right now at this moment, but who you will be forever?
Do you also know that Jesus is preparing a new name for you?
One of the coolest verses to me is Revelation 2:17. Someday you will see face to face the One who most deeply loves you. And He is preparing a new name for you — a name that will be a secret name just between you and Him. Jesus says: “I will give him [or her] a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’”
And that name won’t be Discontent. Or Not Enough. Or, Eustace Scrubb.
You are most dearly loved. Rest in that name today. Accept His invitation to who you really are.
How are you doing with believing your value is tied to who you are, not what you do?
What does your name mean? How does it inform who you really are?