I can go to two extremes when it comes to names (and most things, really).
I sometimes think that names are insignificant, just a label, a mental handle. They don’t define us; they reference us.
On the other extreme, I think that names give us a tether to who a person really is. There is power in a name. Giving something a name contains something like a breath of life. Calling someone’s name elicits a connection, if only momentary, that a mere word should not be able to elicit.
And then there are roles. I play many roles in life: daughter, sister, friend, teacher, neighbor, crazy redhead, etc. Most roles we have we don’t choose; they are given to us by the one who views us that way. I can consider myself someone’s teacher all I want, but until they consider me their teacher, I will not be able to live in that role for them regardless of what I do.
In Christianity we have many names for God and many roles we assign God: Jesus, Holy Spirit, Father, Lord, Helper, Savior, Redeemer, etc. These at times may just be labels that we use out of habit. But perhaps the name(s) we use for God also speaks to the connection we wish to have with the divine, and perhaps the role(s) we tend to lean towards in our thoughts of God is more about our expectations and hopes than it is about the real nature of the divine.
Recently I was in a conversation with a woman who works with people from various religions. Because she regularly encounters people from differing backgrounds, she is intentional about being sensitive to personal faiths. At one point in the conversation she used the name God, and then in an effort to honor where I may be coming from, she added “or whatever you call the one who is greater.” In that moment I simply thought that that was an interesting and elegant way of wording it.
Later it came back to me. Then later it came back. And again later it came back.
The One Who Is Greater
There is much with this for me now. A lot I have yet to put into words, and I’m not sure I should try.
In English we say we call someone such-and-such, so we might say we call the divine “God.” But to say we call someone such-and-such is to say we call to them as that. We call for them as that.
To call for God as The One Who Is Greater has been ministering to me in deep ways.
Some might need the divine to be greater than what is in their life right now. Some might need the divine to be greater than them right now.
For me the name has served to call to the divine in a manner that names a nature of God and of myself in a way that is like a breath of life.
It may not resonate in the same way for you. Regardless of where you land with it, I encourage you to consider your names you have for the divine, what you are calling to or for, and what roles you are eliciting The One Who Is Greater to fulfill.
“Be still and know that I am God.”