Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, know only to the one who receives it.
My friend and fellow blogger/author, Glynn Young, posted this poem, The White Stone, several days ago on his blog, Faith, Fiction, Friends. I was so moved by the succinct and expressive beauty of his words that I turned right around and composed a poem which I subsequently posted in Glynn's comments section. Please take a few moments to read his poem before continuing on with today's post. I guarantee you will be inspired! Oh, and while you're visiting Glynn, do yourself a huge favor and order his books, Dancing Priest, A Light Shining, and Poetry at Work. I have read all three and cannot recommend them highly enough.
What's in a name?
My parents named me "Martha" for my mother's sister, and "Jane" for my father's sister, Mary Jane. And, uncharacteristically for Yankees, they called me by both! Sometimes, I can't help but think God's incomparable sense of humor gave them, though my name, the premonition that they would, in four short years, be living in Georgia where double first names were, and in many places still are, all the rage.
Honestly? I didn't like my name when I was growing up. I wasn't a Susan or a Kathy or a Karen, common monikers during the '50s and '60s. No. I was old-fashioned, Biblical Martha. I don't even recall meeting another Martha from my first day of elementary school through my last year of college. Seriously!
Upon reaching the prepubescent age of eleven, I decide I no longer want to be called Martha Jane, but Marty instead. To my young, inexperienced mind, that sounds so much cooler! My friends are quick to accommodate me. My parents? Uh-uh! Martha Jane it was, and Martha Jane it would remain!
Gradually, as I matured, I learned to embrace the name I am given, though I leave off the Jane part. (Ironically, I reinstated it when I published my books.) Again, the fear that the two-name first name carried a social stigma forced my hand in that decision. Though I lived in the south, I had yet to claim it as my home. The northern influence from my parents was just that strong. And, as a young adult who hadn't come into a true relationship with Jesus, I am more concerned about what others think of me than about what God thinks of me.
But, here is the question: Does your name define who you become in life? How you live it out? Once I became a committed Christian and began reading the Bible in earnest, I am fascinated by the stories about the sisters, Martha and Mary, in the New Testament. Too readily, I identify with Martha, always hustling and bustling, working, raising two children, involving myself in a plethora of church commitments. But, in my heart of hearts, I wish to be more like Mary, content, at peace, and at ease at the feet of the Lord. I know that it's this very dichotomy which made the writing of this poem I share below possible.
And, once again, I'm amazed how God can use all our collective experiences, good and not-so-good, to propel us forward into the persons He means for us to be.
I am named "Martha,"
And, I live up to it.
Serving without ceasing,
Doing before thinking.
Assuming deeds will save
My soul which only longs
To be like Mary. Is that
My white stone's name?
Still and rapt, kneeling
Before the Lord, my God?
I'd like to think so.
I pray to know so.
So, what's in a name?
Everything! When you allow God to choose it.
And, you accept the white stone He offers you.
Do you like your name? Why or why not?
Prayer: Dear Father, you have called us by name to be Your beloved children. No matter what our earthly parents chose to name us, let us journey into the name by which you know us, the one written upon the white stone. Let us live fully into the riches of Your grace and glory. In Jesus' name, amen.