He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
“Progo,’ Meg asked. ‘You memorized the names of all the stars—
how many are there?’
How many? Great heavens, earthling. I haven’t the faintest idea.’
But you said your last assignment
was to memorize the names of all of them.’
All the stars in all the galaxies.
And that’s a great many.’
But how many?’
What difference does it make?
I know their names.
I don’t know how many there are.
It’s their names that matter.”
A Wrinkles in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
“He brought them to the man
to see what he would name them;
and whatever the man called each living creature,
that was its name.
So the man gave names to all the livestock,
the birds in the sky
and all the wild animals.”
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
A planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
To be named. To be known. Isn’t that what lies at the crux of every human being? To have ties, roots, and traditions to keep us anchored. Herein, the premise of adoption—an orphan, who has no earthly ties, taking on a new surname—is such a compelling metaphor. I imagine naming the animals was among the “firsts” of Adam’s assignments in the Garden of Eden. Think of that! Was it a daunting task for Adam to have a myriad of animals clustered about him, anxiously waiting to be named? Or did he relish the creative forces that surged through him as he got to know the intricacies of each animal personality? I wonder how long the whole process took? Did he spend quality time with each species before deciding?
Was it akin to Aslan in C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew, singing over the founding of Narnia, when he calls to them: “Narnia! Narnia! Narnia! Awake! Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters” (Exclamatory markers mine).
And then, to be given the authority of this Naming task by the Naming Author Himself. It’s as if God hands some authority over to Adam, as if to say, “Hey, Adam… I’ve named some gazillion-odd stars in the galaxies. How about you give it a go with a few of these creatures in your corner of the Milky Way?” It’s akin to a parent encouraging their child to try their hand at a trade, practice pursuing a passion, develop a diligent habit in order to hone their skill and marketability, if you will.
The names of God, Himself, are numerous, referenced in the book of Isaiah by more than thirty different names. I can’t help but audiate “Handel’s Messiah” every time I read Isaiah 9:6; before Jesus was even born, names were prophesied over Him in glowing proportions:
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…
And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
Don’t expectant parents also relish in naming their unborn babies? Our imaginations prophesy good things over our children before they are born, conjuring up images to fantastical degrees! We don’t dwell on the impending sleepless nights and endless diapers; nor the constant supervision that will be required of us; nor the daunting life-coaching that looms before us; nor the mounds of dishes and laundry that un-magically and unromantically pile up. No, of course not! We dream about giving bubble baths; we dream about happy, obeying children falling into line before our every gentle admonition; we dream about smiley snuggles and story times before a cozy fire; we dream about laughing together and just being a happy family.
We still Name, like our forebear Adam. And the thought that He has named the stars is profound (Psalm 147:4). As Progo said in A Wrinkle in Time, “It’s their names that matter.”
He has called you by name, Friends!
I will give you the treasures of darkness
and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel,
who calls you by your name.
Isaiah 45:3 ESV
And may the Advent of His Coming cause us to reflect on His.
Behold, you will…give birth to a son,
and you shall call His name Yeshua.
He will be great and will be called Ben-Elyon.
Adonai Elohim will give Him the throne of David, His father.
Luke 1:31-32 TLV