name, the power of a name, Jesus, Jesus' name, the tin collector's tales, striped stocking tin, bowl of red and turquoise ornaments, candle in background, strong tower, light, Christmas, Diana, day, star, dawn, identity, kneel, lift, refuge, pen names, Destiny at Dolphin Bay, Pursuit of the Pudú Deer, Chile, Coquimbo

The Power of a Name

It’s HOT in our city of Coquimbo, Chile, during this final week of the Advent season. Still, the port’s most iconic landmark, the Third Millennium Cross, towers above the summer haze on the highest hill. A testament to the power of the Name, as I reminded a group of women at a year-end tea.

During 2022, we’ve studied some of the names of God in a book called Strong Tower. The title is taken from Proverbs 18:10: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe,” or as the Spanish Reina-Valera translation strikingly puts it, “and will be lifted up!”

What does the name of the Lord Jesus mean for you?

The power of His Name lifts me up.

As soon as I got home from the ladies’ event, I started baking and digging out my Christmas tins to store the goodies in. Have I mentioned that my collection features many different sizes from gigantic—for example, the Dunkin’ Donuts one now holding peanut-butter buckeyes—to miniature, like the candy-cane-striped stocking one featured in today’s post.

Jesus, the Sweetest Name I Know, reads the “cuff” at the top of the tin. It’s a precious old song we used to sing back in the day. Along with the hymn “Take the Name of Jesus with You” and the popular chorus “His Name is Wonderful.”

His name is wonderful, our Advent devotionals remind us. “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6, NASB). The prophet Isaiah also mentions that the virgin will call her son Immanuel (Is. 7:14), which Matthew translates from the Hebrew as “God with us” (1:23).

“Jesus is the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5) and the Lamb of God (Rev. 5:6). He was lionhearted and lamblike, strong and meek, tough and tender, aggressive and responsive, bold and brokenhearted. He sets the pattern for manhood.” –John Piper

The New Testament name Jesus (Mt. 1:21) is the Old Testament Joshua, meaning “Savior.” And truly “what a beautiful name it is.” Jesus the Gentle and Humble is also the King of Kings. The Strong and Kind, the Faithful and True. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Author and Finisher of our faith, the One who created “in the Beginning…” and will write “The End” to HIS story.

“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” is another classic hymn highlighting the praiseworthy Savior-Messiah. A name has power.

The power of Jesus’ name reminds me of my identity.

The Lord Jesus Christ has multiple names, like many members of earthly royalty. The old evangelist Billy Sunday counted 256 names given in the Bible and added, I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.”

“I have known a German prince with more titles than subjects, and a Spanish nobleman with more names than shirts.” —Oliver Goldsmith

People in Hispanic cultures often bear long, impressive-sounding names. A friend from Spain has five, I believe, but then, my own daughters have four in Chile. The perpetuation of both paternal and maternal last names matters here.

Don’t we all (secretly or not) love to hear our own names? And although Jesus is “infinitely beyond” me, He knows my name! He has no difficulty remembering me because after all, He calls the stars by name (Is. 40:26).

 “Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” —Dale Carnegie

Unfortunately, however, the devil also knows my name and, I suspect, my buttons too. He hunts and chases me, not because I am significant, but because Jesus is—and I wear His name. But “the name of the Lord is a strong tower” and I can always “run into it and (be) safe!”

All names have a meaning, some more obvious than others. I frequently ask myself: Do I live up to my name of Christian, “Christ-like one”?

A couple of years ago, in the pits of the global pandemic, I shared an Advent series on some of God’s amazing attributes with the ladies of my church WhatsApp group. Jesus is the sweetest name because He is… Love, for example. He is… Omnipotent, Sovereign, Eternal, Patient, etc. Twenty-four characteristics written in glitter glue on a garland of tree ornaments. The other women loved coming up with their own ways (often much more creative than mine) to commemorate the joy of Christ’s birth.

As parents, we often overlook the importance of choosing and bestowing a suitable name. Recently, a neighbor couple across the road had a baby boy born to their family. Their older son is seventeen, so they had all but given up hope of another child. What celebration over the new addition! And what do you think his name is? Nathanael“gift of God.”

“A good name is rather to be chosen than riches.” —King Solomon (Prov. 22:1)

Do you know the meaning of your own name?

Have you ever meditated on the personal qualities associated with it? Many years ago, when I first arrived in Chile, a pastor asked me why my parents had given me such a heathen name!

So, yeah, yeah. I know Diana was a pagan deity of the Greek/Roman religion. The name means “divine” because of the ideas of “sky,” “heavens,” and “daylight” connected with the root words dia (Greek, across [the sky]) and diem (Latin, day). Even the Spanish word día means day.

Do I want to emulate the sky-goddess Diana? Heavens, no. But I can discover both inspiration and challenge in the link to divinity. Though I’m certainly no goddess, Jesus lifts me up daily with the reminder that I am called to “walk as a child of Light” (Eph. 5:8)

The name Diana symbolizes new beginnings, because “the day is near” (Rom. 13:12) when Jesus, “the Bright Morning Star (Rev. 22:16), will appear. And each Christmas season, we remember again that “the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great Light, and for those dwelling in…the shadow of death…a Light has dawned” (Mt. 4:16, ESV).

In the same vein, a writer’s choice of character names depends on many factors such as author preference, nuance, ethnicity, time period, and perhaps traits to be emphasized. When I christened my protagonist in Destiny at Dolphin Bay Melissa, I didn’t know it means “honeybee.” But I was definitely aware that the name had risen to the top of the list in the United States during the decade in which she was born. It always jars me to read about a heroine named, say, Destiny, in a Regency historical!

Once readers get acquainted, though, they don’t like to have character names changed. I tried to switch Colin Peterson (Melissa’s brother-in-law) to something that better reflected his Downeast Maine background. Would you believe the beta readers mutinied? I had to find another way to impart the flavor.

Sometimes I just replace a minor-character name before he/she becomes too endeared to the public. Too many Davids appeared—originally—in Pursuit of the Pudú Deer. You’ll never guess what David#3 goes by now! And ditto with an extra Felipe or two. In life, certain names enjoy popularity streaks, but that tends to provoke confusion in a novel.  

“Pen names are masks that allow us to unmask ourselves.” —Terri Guillemets

Then we come to the pen-name debate. I stay low-key in Chile by writing under an altered version of my legal name. Maybe some people consider that cheating or hiding, or a symptom of fear, shame, or guilt. But I disagree: that pen name allows me right now to honestly share things that I might prefer to avoid in the present circumstances. It permits me to reveal more than I otherwise might.

So…wearing a different name doesn’t just mask a writer. Sometimes it gives her the place to unmask a true identity.

The power of Jesus’ name provides a refuge of peace and safety, comfort and joy, amid the hustle and bustle.

“O Holy Night,” one of the most breathtakingly beautiful Christmas carols of all time, mentions early on our need of a new dawn: “Long lay the world in sin and error pining Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope—the weary world rejoices…”

Why is the world so weary? We can list plenty of reasons: Weather, from winter storms to summer heat waves. Then there’s worry, about war and rumors of war, about recession and rumors of depression. Death, destruction, diagnoses of disease. Conflict, violence, and just plain evil. All adds up to a spent and jaded planet.

That’s why the angels’ announcement of peace on earth the first Christmas strikes us with such a thrill of hope…and joy. Tired shepherds straightened up and heard: “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy… Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…” (Lu. 2:10-14, NASB).

“For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!”

What causes rejoicing among humanity these days? Winning the lottery? A big victory in the sports world, such as Argentina taking the World Cup championship yesterday? Perhaps you think of a grand accomplishment like finishing a project or graduating from college. A clean bill of health, an upcoming wedding.

“To holy people, the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport. His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living. –John Henry Newman

I can’t think of anything more wonderful than welcoming a newborn baby to the family. And this stable birth in Bethlehem—the incarnation of God’s glorious name as a tiny human person—launched a jubilant party in the heavens! Later, Matthew tells us that “when (the wise men) saw the star (over the place where the Child was), they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy(2:9-10, NASB).

The power of His name will someday compel the world to kneel.

“Fall on your knees;
Oh, hear the angel voices.
Oh, night divine…
Oh, night when Christ was born…”

Today, instantly, the precious name of Jesus commands the power of prayer. One day, in the not-so-far-distant future, it will lead me to eternity and my forever family, my final home, my fully realized hopes. And a new name… (Rev. 2:17; 3:12).

In that moment when at the “name which is above every name…the name of Jesus, every knee will bow” in adoration (Phil. 2:9-11, NASB), I doubt we’ll remember the dreary days and weary ways. We’ll be looking up into His face and looking down from His high tower, where He alone is magnified and all else fades to microscopic.

In the meantime, as we lift His name high, He will lift us up, because His high royal name is Strong Tower. We have His Word, honored above even His name, as “a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your heart” (2 Pet. 1:19, NASB).

In a few days, I want to drive into Coquimbo at night with my grandkids and show them the lights of the city and the sparkling tower of the Cross. In its yet-imperfect way, it symbolizes the sweetest name I know, the only Name I worship, “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (Jn. 1:9, NASB).

For now, I’d better get started baking my aunt’s heirloom candy-cane cookies.

4 Comments

    1. Diana Delacruz

      The Real Person!

      Author Diana Delacruz acts as a real person and passed all tests against spambots. Anti-Spam by CleanTalk.

      says:

      Merry Christmas to you, Colleen, and God bless!

    1. Diana Delacruz

      The Real Person!

      Author Diana Delacruz acts as a real person and passed all tests against spambots. Anti-Spam by CleanTalk.

      says:

      Thank YOU, and I keep that thought frequently front-and-center in my life. The parable of the talents…

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