Monday, January 31, 2005
Singer Of Our Names
He knows our names. Unlike the names we attract in life, his name is the true one, the ineffable one, the one that describes every aspect of us, spirit, mind and body. He speaks my identity.
Craig calls me "Armstrong," because of my interest in the space program. I hope it's not because I'm a space case.
Tony, when I worked at the sewage treatment plant, called me "Lord Chaos" because of my occasional run-ins with an overly-controlling management.
Rablo calls me "Aurans," after T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia fame). I'm not sure of the connection.
Sometimes I'm called "Longs Peak Flyer," from a joke a friend and I played while on our way to deliver a washing machine in Colorado.
And sometimes I'm called "Sand Man," for obvious reasons, although that name is probably copyrighted. "Sandragon" is not, and I take that on at times, especially when I make tools.
Names. I was christened "Laurence Strong Nelson III" which seems a bit much so I've shortened it to Larry Nelson. My friend Roman suggested I change it to "Larry Just," so that in the phone book it would show up as Just Larry. I liked that but it was too much hassle.
Names. None of us really knows. Names are said to make the person: you can grow into a name, or it can drag you down. "There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
None are worse than the ones we give ourselves. "Loser." "Incompetent" "Stupid." "Underacheiver." Depressed, Drunk, Obsessive-compulsive, et infinite cetera. We use them as shields against a hostile world; if I call myself stupid before someone else gets around to it, I've saved us both some hassle and time, and the ultimate end is the same.
Then Jesus comes along and gives me the Holy Spirit, who starts singing softly in my ear a new name. A new kind of name, one that I can only get hints of understanding right now. What kind of human being will unfold under this song? If Jesus sang stars into the sky from nothing, what kind of human soul can he sing from the wreckage if he is given a chance?
First I have to un-name myself. Put away all those other deleterious references in favor of a truth that seems, at first glance, to be even more dangerous. What might the God of the Universe think of me? It can't possibly be good!
Wrong-O, Buzzard-Breath! For one thing, part of the song came out as me, and Jesus is a very good singer. He wouldn't sing anything bad. For another, he wouldn't have given up his own life for a piece of junk. His opinion of me is demonstrated as being very high. He treasures each of his creatures, and isn't one of us worth more than any number of sparrows?
But if I let Jesus name me, what happens to me? Do I just disappear into the world, one drop of water dissolved in the ocean? Is that what I'm supposed to be? I don't really want dissolution like one of my sand sculptures gently sagging into the borrow pit it came from, to be indistinguishable from the original beach within a few minutes. But could my desire for uniqueness be a siren song leading me to drowning of another kind? I've fought to hold an identity, but it's not really my name. Only Jesus knows that name, and he whispers to me.
"Trust me. You'll like it. It's what you're made for."
It's hard for me to trust, and the more deeply the Holy Spirit delves into my being the more afraid I become. What is he doing? What will be left when he's done? I keep telling myself that the name he's singing is the true one and that it can't involve dissolution because he wouldn't have made me as I am if the goal were to be like everyone else.
"No one can live unless he dies to himself." Maybe in order to get the new name all of the old names must die. I have to quit thinking of myself as I always have, and think of myself as something even beyond "We," a person whose song is being re-written by Jesus in words formed on my heart.
I don't really know where I'm going, but I know where I've been and almost anything is better. I just way underestimated--again--how far the reconstruction would go.
Ah, Lord Jesus, Soul-singer
Help me to stay with you
to keep listening
to let your song wash my heart
wash away old names
and leave what you put in there
from the get-go.
Thank you for seeing me
not as I have remade myself
but as you made me
and as I can be again.
This post is one of the most beautiful I've ever read. It touches me deep inside. I, too, have a sense that I'm just beginning to discover the me I was created to be. I dreamed one night that Jesus stood at the foot of my bed. He held the stone with my name on it. I couldn't read the name, but I knew it was special.
The Lord gave me something a couple of weeks ago. I haven't told many people about it, but it seems to fit with your post so I'll share it. It was a picture of the Lord and I together. We were slow dancing. I felt very protected and cherished, then, suddenly, He stepped back and I began dancing a ballet/worship kind of dance. I did amazing leaps and twirls, things I would never dream I was capable of. He danced with me. Sometimes He supported a leap, sometimes our moves paralleled each other. It was amazing. I felt like He was showing me that He'd held me close and protected me as I was healing and that now He's setting me free to dance a new dance with Him--one that is free and daring and beyond what I thought I could do. But it wasn't something that lost me in the process--it just set me free and rounded out the fullness of who I am to become.
It's kind-a like your name, I think. It won't be a loss of you--but a deeper, freer, more full you that is named.
I've been thinking about your comment on my blog today. I know my husband is an answer to prayer. My heart was very vulnerable and many people would have manipulated it for personal gain, but not my hubby. I pray the Lord sends people into your life that can be trustworthy and that can walk beside you as the Lord teaches you to be brave.
I really love this post too.. it is beautiful. It's funny because we have been singing, "He knows my name" a lot lately... it was at Louis funeral, Lou sings it & a friend of mine (Marsha) was just telling me they call this her song. :)
I love what God is doing in your heart and in your life Larry.
Love the idea of getting rid of old names... I call myself those names too Larry. The picture you gave us of God knowing fully who we are... and our name being what we are made for is what I needed to hear today!