“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:3-4

Have you ever had the opportunity to give something, or someone, a name? Maybe it was your favorite stuffed animal, a pet, or an even more precious- a child. A couple of weeks ago, Sue shared with us about her daughter, Kori Danielle. Sue shared what Kori’s name meant and how she came to know this would be the name of her sweet daughter. In true God fashion, I had been pondering names and how important they are to each of us and to those giving us a name. Names have carried meanings for centuries and identified who a person belonged to and even called out their purpose. Throughout the Bible you will find the same to be true. Parents gave children specific names and God renamed his people as they stepped into his work.

In the scripture above, John is documenting Jesus’ sermon where Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd. An important part of being a good shepherd lies in naming their sheep. I imagine shepherds naming their sheep based on color, markings, and personality. 

The shepherd says, “Your name will be Domino because of that big black circle around your eye.” To the next sheep he says, “Your name will be Jazzy because of your spunkiness within the herd. You have energy for days!” And to the next he says, “I think I’ll  name you Pearl because you just look fancy. Your wool is cleaner than all the others, too” and so on. The shepherd would need to pay special attention to his sheep to give them names.

He doesn’t just yell “Hey sheep!” but he calls each individual name “Domino, Jazzy, Pearl” and the best part is…they each know their name.  

For those of us who are in Christ and have accepted Jesus as our Good Shepherd, we know He is pleased with us and He knows us by name (Exodus 33:17). He gives us a new name that reflects our belonging and divine potential in Him. My name is Ashley, this is the name my parents gave me and identifies who I am as an individual. The world has given me lots of different names over time like “Forgotten, Unloved, Broken, Trash, and Disappointment.”  Theses names weighed me down with shame and a heavy yoke. I couldn’t carry one, but more kept coming. 

But then Jesus called my name. My Savior called me at the most unexpected time and gave me a new name. In Him, I am:

Chosen (Colossians 3:12)

Masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)

Forgiven (Colossians 1:14)

Sweet fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:15) 

These names gave me a sense of security, safety, and protection.  Jesus gently whispered these names when he first called me, and nothing felt truer in my entire life. For the first time feeling completely known and completely loved. Only a Good Father who gives good gifts can give names like these. 

Have you heard Jesus calling you by name? Or are you holding on to the name the world has given you- one that carries burden, shame, and guilt? Let go of all the names that bring your hurt, pain, and burden; and take up the names given you to by the Good Shepherd. 

God, I am in awe at your attention and care for us. I cannot fathom all the time you spend paying attention to each of our individual needs. You do this for us as you use your Holy Spirit to call us by name. I thank you for your Holy Spirit that guides us, comforts us, and leads us to the heart of the Father. This is where we find our true name and identity. I ask that you speak to each, and every person reading this and call them by name. God call them out of the darkest and into your marvelous light, one name at a time. The has never been a moment we were not perfectly known and perfectly loved by you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If you have had an abortion and you are ready to let go of the names that have tried to define you as a result of your abortion, please go to http://www.DeeperStill.org to find a retreat near you. Jesus has a new name for you.