What’s in a Name?
A story is in a name. Meaning, also. Your name may be a family name or that of a cherished friend. Maybe it simply had a powerful meaning for your parents or you were named after a hero, or some personal passion of theirs. I was actually named Kacy because of my Dad’s love of baseball (Casey at Bat, anyone??) and Rae after my Mom. I was supposed to be a boy, Casey Ray. When it turned out I wasn’t, my parents simply changed the spelling. Easy peasy.
And, kinda annoying. But, I digress.
The name Kacy means watchful, alert, and vigilant in war. It sure fits me, too. I watch out for everything. What’s coming way ahead or quietly looming just around the corner. Usually the worst things. I watch in order to wage war.
Rae means timid or shy, but is also short for Rachel, which means ewe, or, a female sheep. Baaaaaa.
These are also both pretty fitting descriptions, as I literally used to hide behind my Mom as a little girl and was so shy my older sister (aka, Tammit, due to her penchant towards voicing a certain word when unnerved) had to, pretty literally, drag me to cheerleading tryouts in the seventh grade where, during the actual tryout, the judges were forced to ask me to speak up more than once, and where I actually required five (count ’em: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!) do-overs on the cheer we performed individually.
It was an exhausting way to live.
But, this blog is not named, Kacy Rae, is it? It’s named, Redeemed Ruth. And that’s because it’s not only my story I’m telling, but one of how I walk with my Savior and my God. Or, more like how I collide with Him. Often. And in case you may have wondered why I named it so, I thought I’d finally explain. If you haven’t, well then, I’m telling you anyway. Sorry.
So, have you seen the few times in the Bible where God and Jesus changed some names? The Apostle Paul himself, who once persecuted Christians, was named Saul before having his own personal encounter with Jesus and he tells us often in his epistles that we are a new creation, or a new person if you will, once saved. So, having a new name really just seems fitting in this salvation experience. We die and are reborn into a new life.
Abram and Sarai became Abraham and Sarah after God made a covenant with them to parent nations, beginning with the His unbelievable promise they’d have a child in old age. And then there was Jacob, who became Israel, after wrestling with God and asking for a blessing. Finally, in the N.T., Simon becomes Peter, The Rock, after Jesus promises to build His Church upon him.
And so, about ten years ago, my friend and I were reading a book… or maybe it was a Bible study(??) – I really can’t recall exactly – and this subject of new names was brought up. Specifically, what God’s name for each of us may be. The idea was that God sees who He’s creating when He looks at us – not who we happen to be – and, therefore, may have a new name in mind.
And since each new name brought about a new purpose, the suggestion was made by the author to ask God to show us our own personal name from Him, in order that we might grasp more fully our own purpose, just as He’d shown these other flawed, yet loved, humans.
So, I did just that. And within a couple weeks, I knew without doubt it was Ruth, because, well, for one, I randomly opened to that very book in the Bible after asking. And then, I just felt confirmation as that name kept showing up in the days that followed. Mostly, though, I just believed it in my spirit, so moved forward.
Now, I’m gonna be honest. While I’d done a study nearly a decade prior on the book of Ruth, I’d really only remembered most the fact she had a second husband named, Boaz. He was best known as the Kinsman Redeemer/Jesus like figure from the O.T., so I hadn’t given much thought to her beyond that fact. Well, other than a vague recollection that Jesus is in her family line.
Oh yeah, there’s that.
But then, I happened to tell another friend about this whole thing and she got super excited, encouraging me to read the actual book of Ruth all over again so I could be amazed. Which I did. And was! And then promptly set about finding any sermon I could telling her story, plus read multiple commentaries, then the story over and over again, until I finally sat shocked and speechless because this Ruth was pretty much the polar opposite of myself.
Her story is actually named after her in the Bible [Side note to you girls: Jesus sees us!] yet, it’s not just about her. The book itself is known for showing God’s perfect, steadfast, loving kindness towards His children (hesed love) and gives us an actual picture of how we should walk out that kind of loving life with others. What’s more, it flows just like a modern day love story, complete with rich themes of heartbreak, danger, strong commitment, suspense, plot twists, romance, and finally, what all good love stories have in common, the happy ending!
And Y’all, Ruth, herself, was brave and bold and forward looking. She was hard working, unwavering, unflinching, and unselfish. So about the only thing we seemed to have in common was her commitment to those she loved, plus the fact she was from a region of people opposed to the God of the Bible. Those aspects actually resonated rather deeply with me, as I love my people pretty unwaveringly and wasn’t raised in church, so knew nothing of the Bible or God before salvation.
Now, the name, Ruth, actually means compassionate friend. And while I highly value my friendships and have only ever truly given up on two of them in 47 years (and those through some deep pain), it seemed only half appropriate. It was the compassionate part that really threw me the same as all her other personality traits since, truth be told, I’m more of the unsympathetic variety of friend, tending toward harshness, isolation, and a slight, get-over-it kind of demeanor.
But that’s also the part I hadn’t quite grasped yet way back when. The name Ruth is not who I am. The name is who I am becoming. Who God sees when He looks at me. Who God is creating out of all this mess called me.
I am His.
And right about now, you may have begun to have questions. (Or, it’s more likely you’ve had them from the beginning!) Like… Why is any of this important? What does any of it have to do with Christianity? How does this help others? Aren’t you a bit full of yourself to inquire something like this from God? And, sadly, it’s likely a ‘yes‘ to the last one, but that’s basically my sinful side and misses the bigger point.
Plus, it hardly answers those other questions.
So, here’s my best answer. Christianity is simply a life lived through Jesus: Dependence on Him for everything and pointing to Him in all things. Because, we have actually died the minute we put our faith in Jesus’ life, work, sacrifice on that cross, then triumph over the grave, and – finally – His victory over death itself!
And yet… we have to keep living while our life is no longer about us. About the old us, especially! Our old names and any meaning, associations, or purpose we think we may have in them or in this life now… or, what anyone at all has ever called us, good and bad, no longer matters in the least. It’s only now all about what God thinks, believes, and says about us and His purposes for us and His Kingdom that will ever matter.
Because, remember this little gem sitting in Isaiah?
But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.Isaiah 43:1
And again for good measure: I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. -God
You see, in my opinion, there’s no better way to understand your new purpose than to know yourself as God knows you; to actually *see* yourself how God sees you. Now, of course His Word is chock full of descriptions for all His children. Words like loved, forgiven, rejoiced over, righteous, delighted in, covered, white as snow, set apart, secure. The list goes on, honestly.
But, what better way to know exactly how that looks for you personally, than to ask Him for the name He calls you individually? Who knows, but your very purpose may be tied up in a new name! Such was the case for me, as the promise of where He is taking me, is wound up tightly with the name He has given me. And, while Ruth is all the things I am not (yet), I believe it’s also all I am becoming, because I know He who began a good work is faithful to complete it until Jesus returns.
What’s more, now, when I get down on myself for living in fear instead of bravery, or feeling I’m forever watching for the next shoe to drop instead of watching for Jesus, or standing firm on high alert to wage my next war instead of on top of Gods’ promises, or following the pack instead of my Good Shepherd, I can remember it won’t be like this forever. Simply because I’m not who I once was. I have a new name. I have been redeemed. I have been purchased with a price. I have been set free from a life lived unto those sins of pride and distrust and unbelief and am held firmly in His grasp.
For His very own purpose.
And the same goes for you if you have put your faith in Jesus’ redemptive work on earth. And then, all the life of faith we think we’re living, becomes totally consumed and wrapped up in Him only. As it should be. Our time gets wrapped up with Him. Our lives get intertwined with His. We become dependent upon Him for everything. Every little thing. His work can now be done through us, and not in our own strength and to our own glory. His Name becomes greater than our own. It all becomes, beautifully, only about Him.
And simply knowing how He sees me, helps me to know Him better and better, and to know – more and more deeply – that it’s not about me at all… and that it never, ever has been.
Because life is always – and only – about Jesus!
So, now for the big question. What does Jesus call you? What is the beautiful, remarkable, unbelievable person God sees you becoming? If you don’t yet know, get alone and get to know. Simply ask and wait for his leading. Because He will tell you! And, I can’t wait to hear what I can call you when we next chat.
Yours truly, Ruth.