In my home office, framed diplomas and plaques hang above my desk. Each bears my name and represents my professional and academic accomplishments. In my office in the city, a nameplate outside of my door bears my name and title, which for some reason causes others to respond with respect and recognition of my “status” in the company. My name is written on these symbols of accolade, and I am rewarded. And to be honest, I am proud of those achievements. Perhaps too proud.
My name is written in some places that I’d rather it not be, as well. On the hearts of ones I love, whom I have hurt with my words or actions (or both), and their remembrance of my name may bring pain. Or during the years when I was far from God but still called myself a Christian, spending time with “friends” and making choices that now make me cringe to even think about. When those friends think upon my name, do they remember someone who acknowledged Jesus with her lips but denied Him by her lifestyle? And let’s not forget those few but memorable instances when others unjustly and dishonestly represented my name in a deceptive way. My name is written in these dark places, too, and I would give anything to be able to hit the “delete” button and clear my name.
There is yet another place where my name resides, though.
With the One who chose it.
With the One who bought it.
I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…
(Is 49:15-16 NIV)
Regardless of what our name represents here on earth, our name belongs to Him – because He is in us and we are in Him. And here’s the best part – ultimately, whether I or others celebrate or despise my name here on Earth, there is an audacious promise from God to us that not only will He redeem and restore our names on Earth for His glory (Romans 8:28), but we as believers in Christ are also promised a sweet heavenly reward.
Whoever has ears, let them hear … 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. (Rev 2:17 NIV)
One of our rewards in heaven is a new name. Our God-chosen name. Our untarnished name. A name so uniquely chosen and set apart that it is known only to Him and to the one who receives it.
“I will also give that person a white stone…” In those times, it was customary to cast a vote for someone’s innocence or guilt by using black and white stones. If a black stone was cast, the vote was guilty. A white stone meant that the person on trial was voted blameless. Pardoned.
Much like the Hebrews were given a name that revealed their purpose, we too will receive our heavenly name. Here on Earth, as a body of believers in Christ, we already share some names that I think sound pretty heavenly.
I can’t imagine that I have been given a heavenly name more beautiful than those, but the promise says I will. And I believe it.
Yet as awesome as that truth is, there is an even more powerful promise.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. (Rev 3:12 NIV)
There is also a name of God that has never reached our ears. One that has never been profaned or mocked. I believe it will be so beautiful that my earthly ears couldn’t bear to hear it. More melodious than the sweetest song, and more beautiful than the gut-deep utterances and cries of “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” or “Abba” that cross my lips in my most intimate moments with God.
May we receive the promise given, that nothing can separate us from our names in Christ – our names are graven on his scarred hands.
May we, with excited anticipation, receive God’s radical love given through the beautifully mysterious promises of what awaits us in heaven.
And may we press on and into Christ so that we may live up to the potential of our new heavenly name.
Our white stone awaits.