On the other hand, I remember the year that Miss America was Debra Dene Barnes. Now that was exciting. When someone asked how to spell my name, I just said, “You know, like Miss America does.”
In a new doctor’s office I can always tell when it’s my turn before the nurse even calls me, poking her head out the door with file in hand—she always hesitates. I have been called “Den-ay,” “Dee-nah,” even “Danny” once. You can always tell who learned to read with phonics—long “e” plus silent “e” always equals the correct pronunciation.
Sometimes I wish I had chosen to go by my middle name, Teresa. At least all these doctor appointments would have been easier on everyone. When I was young, I even looked like I thought a “Teresa” ought to look—long curly black hair. Now I just look like Mother Teresa.
Some time ago, I started pronouncing it by the pet name my parents always called me, and which Keith has taken up, “Denie.” For some reason, when people look at “Dene” that makes more sense to them. And so “Denie” I have become, though still spelled “Dene.” It is still fairly unusual and I cannot hide behind the anonymity of a common name.
Names have always been important to God. He has even changed people’s names to suit himself when he thought it was important. But far more important is for us to be called by God’s name.
Under the Old Covenant people understood that being called by God’s name offered them protection (Deut 28:10). They understood that being called by God’s name meant bearing the responsibility to act in certain ways (Isa 63:19), and that wearing his name was not permission to wander from his commandments without consequence (Jer 14:9ff).
But it also meant that He would have compassion on them, that He would love them even while they sinned, and that He wanted their repentance as much as any Father could want his wandering child to return home.
Today we still wear the name of God, Christian. Wearing that name still means all those things it meant so long ago. Are we living up to the responsibility that demands, or is God out there calling us back home? After all, in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven that is given among men, wherein we must be saved. Acts 4:12.
Fear not; for I am with you: I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the end of the earth; every one that is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, and whom I have made. Isa 43:5-7