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What's in a Name?
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Photo: Jason Antony
The Friday night before Super Bowl 2007, Scott Weise, a die-hard Chicago Bears fan signed a pledge before a large crowd in a Decatur, Illinois bar. If the Bears lost the big game, Weise vowed he would legally change his name to Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts winning quarterback.

The following Tuesday, Weise arrived at the Macon County courthouse to make good on his word. The Colts won the coveted bowl, and now as promised, the 26 year old Staples employee began the legal process to change his identity.

When my mother was a young girl, she somehow convinced my grandparents to allow her to trade in her given name of Lenore for that of a then popular screen actress named Elinor, whom she apparently admired. She kept the starlet’s name for the rest of her life.

Names Mark New Relationship

A number of Bible characters were given new names to mark their new status or relationship with God. Abram (exalted father) and his wife Sarai (my princess), were dubbed Abraham (father of many) and Sarah (princess) when God revealed to them that they would be the father and mother of many nations.

After prevailing with God during a night-long struggle, the Almighty gave Jacob (deceiver) the new name of Israel (prince of God) to signify his new relationship with his Creator.

Naomi (pleasant) experienced a series of not so pleasant losses that included the death of her husband and two sons within a period of ten short years. When she returned to her country of origin, a broken widow without descendents, her friends called out, “Naomi!”  But she told them to call her Mara, (bitter) from now on because she went out full and came back empty.

In our culture women generally still take the last name of their husbands when their status is changed from single to married. With the new relationship, comes a new designation.

As a teenager, I dearly wished I could change my last name because it was a constant reminder of my father with whom I had a very poor relationship with at the time.

Once I made the mistake of greeting a colleague by her given name of Christine. Her icy response let me know in no uncertain terms that she hated that moniker and the mother that called her by it.

In fact, over the years I’ve met a number of people who don’t particularly like their name for one reason or another.

That’s one reason I’ve always been intrigued by the Bible verse that God will give to those who overcome, "a white stone with a new name written on it (Revelation 2:17). Why a white stone? Perhaps because white symbolizes the purity, beauty and holiness of God and heaven. In that place, the attire is white robes and there, the great white throne of God resides.

But why a new name? For those who are faithful to God on this earth, some suggest the new name may be representative of a new life, a new body, a new character and a new relationship with God, free from sin.

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By Kathy A Lewis. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. 


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