What’s in a Name?

Read: Genesis 17:1-8, 15

No longer shall your name be called Abram, but . . . Abraham. (v. 5)

Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, and Saul became Paul. Repeatedly, God emphasizes the power and importance of a name, from the Garden of Eden to declaring that Peter, once Simon, is now the “Rock” upon whom “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). All throughout Scripture, name changes occur to mark significant moments.

As Ben’s adoption day grew nearer, so too did his own upcoming name change. Like Abram, Ben had lived in multiple homes in multiple counties; his possessions had been packed, lost, repurchased, and acquired again in his ever-shifting, unstable, little life. His name, however, had served as an anchor. It had helped him to remember who he was; changing it was more unsettling than we could have anticipated. The irony, of course, is heart-wrenching. For an older child in foster care, the elusive wish is to have your own “forever family.” It’s the dream come true. Yet few of us realize the significance that this change, albeit positive, might mean for these kids. I watched him struggle with this decision for weeks.

In the end, our tiny, talkative, now 11-year-old boy made the choice to legally take our last name. You, too, have a choice! When you believe in Jesus, you are given a new name. The Father himself declares that when we do so, we are his beloved children, adopted sons and daughters of the Most High God. Call and he will answer. Let him change your name! —Tammy DeRuyter

As you pray, invite God to open your heart.

About the Author

Tammy DeRuyter is a former stockbroker turned student of theology and history. She holds master’s degrees in both from Fuller Theological Seminary and Central Michigan University. Married for more than 25 years to Michael, an ordained RCA pastor, they have three emerging, young adult children ages 20, 21, and 22—the youngest of whom was adopted at 11.