My Japanese surname is unusual and for non-Japanese, difficult to pronounce. It is so unusual that even native Japanese sometimes look at me with a befuddled look when they hear it. This polite acknowledgement changed one day, when I was with a group of other Japanese and we were writing our last names in Kanji, the Japanese written characters. One of the women in the group looked at the characters in my name, turned her head to the side and frowned. Pointing at the characters, she declared, “Your name doesn’t make sense!”
I was startled by her accusation. “What do you mean?”
“We don’t read the Japanese characters like that!”
Her pronouncement stirred a memory that my parents shared with me about my name. When my great grandfather immigrated to Hawaii from Japan, the immigration officer incorrectly interpreted and mispronounced the written characters and assigned to him our incorrect present name. To my chagrin, this woman was absolutely correct and I acknowledged her observation.
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
Revelation 20:12 (NKJV)
And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:15 (ESV)
I am thankful that God places a great deal of importance upon our names. Jesus called Lazarus by his name when he raised him from the dead. He called Mary by name when she came to His empty tomb on that Resurrection Sunday. He also gave new names to His disciples. He renamed Simon as Peter. He renamed the brothers John and James, the sons of thunder.
My name doesn’t make sense! Yes, this is true. But thanks be to God that my true identity is not dependent upon earthly names but by the name that He gives me. He calls me and gives me my true identity as an adopted son of God. And this is the name that is forever recorded in His Book of Life.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.