Who Do You Say I Am? How Names Define Us

Names. I hear a lot of them out on the morning road. Costa Ricans are a friendly bunch and blue skies inspire greetings. My favorite booms out from an elderly man working in his pasture, “¡Ay caramba, machita! ¿Como está?”  

My goodness, little blondie, how are you?

With such a welcome, it would be hard not to call back the customary, “Very well, thank you.  How are you?”

Amor (Love), Hija (Daughter), the formal Señora (Ma’am): local culture embraces endearments and nicknames. A cheery pineapple vendor once called my friend, “negrita.”  It translates as little black girl, but also refers to the patron saint of the country, a stone representation of the mother of Christ. His intended meaning to the Caucasian matron was something like “dear, kind woman.”

Referring to someone by their ethnicity is also common here, as when a grandmother at church told me so-and-so’s wife is “la china”—the Chinese lady, although the term covers any Asian lineage. And while the movies of my youth gave me a negative slant of the word “gringo,” in Central America it just means people who aren’t Latinos. Europeans, North Americans, we all qualify without malice.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Names mean something.  They speak value, or the lack of it. Taking the time to use a name ups the intensity. Whether it’s an encouragement of being known, or a parent hauling out the long form for fear factor, what’s written on your birth certificate is only the beginning.

What names define me? What names do you call yourself?

Some names are comfortable: wife, friend, sister.

Some labels we hesitate to claim, as if we might not deserve them: runner, writer, good mother.

Names have power, they evoke a response. Most likely, something happens inside you when you read the word Jesus or Trump.

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Here in the tropics, this is insect paradise. Some visit us like blessings. We reach out to them and hope they draw close. We admire their colors, learn from them, and release their beauty forward. They inspire us.

Some bugs we stomp on sight, knowing their danger.

Names should be the same way.

In the states, you might feel a tiny tickle on your skin and give a look. Usually, nothing is there. In Costa Rica, something almost always is. At any given moment, a tiny ant crawls into view onto my book, my arm, my phone, even occasionally my eyeglasses. Yes, the ones on my face that I’m looking through. It’s crazy.

Without invitation, names crawl onto us, as well. Lazy, needy, too _________, or not enough _________. Everyone can fill in their own blanks. Those names never decide to crawl themselves back off. They have to be remedied and rubbed away.

How?

The problem starts with names; the solution begins there, too.

Jesus was given the name above all names, authority over every name. He turns to each of us to ask, “As for you, who do you say I am?”

There are a variety of answers: good teacher, irrelevant, prophet, blasphemer, Son of God.

My response is Lord and Savior.

Some names are easy to brush off like those tiny ants. Others seem to take hold and burrow in. Almost every morning of my eighth grade year, one boy greeted me, “Hello, Ugly.” I tried to smile and make it something pretty. Inside of me, it never worked.

So I turn to Jesus and ask him in return, “As for you, who do you say that I am?”

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There are a variety of answers: beloved, daughter, overcomer, chosen, cherished.

Beautiful.

Many names, each one true. The ones he uses are the only ones that matter.

“to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.” Isaiah‬ ‭56:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things [all those false names]; preserve my life according to your word [the true names you give me].”  ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭119:37‬ ‭NIV‬


Who do you say that Jesus is?  And who does he say that you are?  Share you names with us. We’d love to cheer you on.

Nametags Photo by chuttersnap  & Flower Photo by Gaston Roulstone on Unsplash

Coming Out of the Nest

My Lovely Girl Watching my daughter’s ballet recital has a way of bringing my considerable emotion to the top of my throat.  Every year I enter the state of jumbled tears and delight that gave Webster the definition of poignant.  She is beautiful.  They all are.  And for these few hours a year we take the time to really appreciate it.

One dance especially spoke to my heart.  A mama-bird ballerina flew tenderly around a nest of sweet young chicks, encouraging them into the adventure beyond the safe wall of twigs they had known.  One by one, they tried their wings and popped out of the nest to soar along with her.  Finally, only one baby bird was left lingering in her comfort zone, half-covering her eyes as she watched her family joyfully flying.

Baby Bird in the Nest

How I know the heart of that tiny fledgling.  Watching in wonder at the strong wings dancing around her, longing to join them, yet afraid to let go of the ground that has held her steady since birth.

In just over two months, our wings will launch us to serve the Lord in Costa Rica.  Each day seems to unveil a new item to be accomplished before we go.  We need official, certified documents, and we need apostille documents to prove that those documents are indeed officially certified.  We need the Lord to sell our house and to provide the funding to support our ministry.  Our baby beaks are open wide, cheeping to the heavenly Father, and sometimes our feather-tips feel more comfortable covering our eyes than they do preparing for flight.

Flying Free!

But the beauty of the family of God serving fully—at home and out in the nations—calls to us.  The Holy Spirit lifts our wings, encouraging us to join Him in the adventure of living by faith.  The little chick eventually made her way out into the dance.  Carried by our Lord, partnered by a host of people with a heart for at-risk children and mission teams, so will we.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  Psalm 91:4 NIV