Named by God

The Apostle Paul identifies the One to whom he is praying:

[The Father] from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

Ephesians 3:15

My name is Eva Maureen Dubert Burkholder. I was named after my aunt. While Aunt E got the shortened form, I never had a nick name. Eva means “life or giver of life” in Hebrew. Maureen came because my mother chose names that started with “Ma” after her name, Marjorie. I didn’t appreciate the depth of my name until I gave birth to my first son. My name also helps me appreciate my God who is a life-giver and who has given me both life here on earth but also eternal life.

In grade school, my two closest friends and I created code names for everyone in our class so we could talk about them and pass notes that no one understood. (What a silly schoolgirl thing to do!) My name, for the record, was Jelly Bean. And you know, I cannot even remember why I got that name even though we did have some sort of strategy. In French class, I had to choose a name, so I chose Renee, just because I liked the sound of it. In college, my weird and delightful senior roommates coined a way to abbreviate our names, thus I became Eu Da (pronounced “ooda”). And after pledging to love and cherish my husband, I took on a new last name as well as some endearing names. Oh, the evolution of names in one’s lifetime!

Isaiah 49:1b says The Lord called me from the womb; from the body of my mother he named me (NASB). God felt names were so important that he gave Adam the task of giving every creature a name. This became their identity, the description of who they were. Without a name, we are nobodies, not acknowledged. Knowing someone’s name means we know who they are. My Australian friends find it troublesome when we Americans talk about someone who is present in the room using the third person. “She’s (standing right next to me) really happy that our son called today.” Aussies find this very rude. Why would you not use the person’s name, “Jane is really happy”….? Using just a pronoun feels dehumanizing.

We have several examples in Scripture of God renaming his children. Abram became “Abraham” (Genesis 17:5), Sarai became “Sarah” (Genesis 17:15), Jacob became “Israel” (Genesis 32:28), Simon became “Peter” (Matthew 16:18). God even named his Son “Jesus” (Matthew 1:21). When we learn the meaning of these new names, we see that they were pictures of the people God intended they would become.

While I have had many names and code names, the one most precious to me is the name God gave me. After a time of emotional struggle, God named me “Hephzibah” from Isaiah 62:4. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. I hesitate to share this very personal experience because Hephzibah has been the brunt of many Christian jokes, but it is very special to me. Hephzibah means “my delight is in her.” “Delight” for short. (By the way, Naomi, Jewel, and Eden also mean “delight.”) This naming came at a time when I did not feel delighted in, but God reassured me that this was the way sees me, the way he made me to be, the one I will become.

It is also very comforting and intimate to me to know that God not only names me but he calls me by my name. Isaiah 43:1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. (NKJV) In those times when I am struggling to know who I am or if I am worth anything, God calls me “My delight” and I stand tall and stop trying to get others to tell me how delightful I am.

Recently, my dear friend Lori stepped into the presence of Jesus. How sweet that moment must have been when she heard her Savior call her name—out loud—to actually hear it! “Lori, my sweet one, you are whole again!”

Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had.

Richard Rohr

What name has God given you?

What picture does it paint of who God wants you to be? 

What will your Savior call you when you step into his presence?


My God to whom I pray, You are the One who has named everyone, including me. You see everyone. You know who we are and will become. You are our source, our origin. You give us our meaning and our identity. Thank you for naming us and calling us by our name.

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