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“Your name is a golden bell hung in my heart. I would break my body to pieces to call you once by your name.”

― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

During my many years in Sudan, we built homes, schools, churches, and clinics for more than 2,000 orphans, repatriated thousands of former sex-slaves from the North, and created jobs for hundreds of Sudanese (many became excellent childcare givers in our orphanages).

Two of the things that I found to be consistent among our children were that they constantly changed their names and ages. At first, this really befuddled me, but they were quite insistent that they had it “right this time”. For children who have so little control over absolutely anything in their lives, we felt we should not take this small thing away from them; so, we let them do it. I started researching the power of names.

Rick Riordan, author of The Lightning Thief said, “Names have power.”.

I watched our children closely, especially when international medical or teaching teams came to visit. I realized that these orphans of war, many of whom had lived alone in the bush from toddler age, often picked the name of their favorite team member and wrote it on their own hearts and lives.

This made sense to me. Alone, powerless, and hungry orphans suddenly had dozens of foreigners flying in on a large silver bird. And these teams wanted to do nothing except play, eat, and learn with our orphans. That would be a pretty heavy trip for children who had only associated planes with bombs dropping from the sky.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17

Our name is so very important that when all our time has come together to meet our Creator, there will be a ceremony where Christ will give us a white stone with the name he calls us by.

Humans are commonly reckless with names. Without permission people call Johnathon: John, Patricia: Pat, Thomas: Tommy, and Kimberly: Kim. Most of us are so conditioned to this—and give so little thought to the power in a name—that we don’t even correct people most of the time. The truncating of our name—along with the power that it holds—just happens without thought.

I’m wondering if part of our path to finding our true calling or mission in life is tied up in the power of names. Our orphans certainly believed there was a special blessing for them just by taking a beloved team member’s name as their own—even though they never saw most of them again. How much more powerful would it be to know the name Jesus calls us by?

My family always called me “Kim”. I hated it, even as a child, but I never said anything because…well…because they were family and at the time this started I was just a runt. In fact, my siblings always called me, “mouse”. That may sound so trivial, but as I launched a spiritual growth journey, I came to recognize the power clenched in the teeth of a name.

Many years ago, I started daily meditation in addition to prayer. Prayer is talking to God; meditation is being very still and quiet as we listen for God. I began asking his name for me.

I know. I know. The passage says, I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it….” So it sounds like it has to wait and happen then, in the future. But there is no actual scripture that says we can’t hear the name now, albeit we may have to wait for the stone that Christ will place in our hands.

In the retreats that I lead helping others to find what I call their original beauty—that dream God held for us as he knit us in our mother’s womb—we spend several hours on this practice of finding our name, leading to our mission.

I hope you’ll attend one of my retreats this fall. In the meantime, you can begin asking and quietly listening, honing your heart to be open and ready.

Love, your sister along the journey, +k

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Love, your sister along the journey,

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