What’s in a name?

By Natalia Hatton | Blog

Apr 06

This week at the bible study we have poured over Ruth and what amazed me was the attention to detail that was seen as the names and meanings were looked at.

We see that Elimilek’s name meant ‘my God is King’ and the roots of his life were grounded in God, so that makes sense. But he chose to see that get tweaked in the later stages of life.

His two sons were named with meanings of sickness and pining, fitting given they were not able to have kids and died, living in a time of famine.

His wife was Naomi, ‘pleasant’ and she must have been for the relationship that clearly stood between the family unit. But she was bitter from her losses and pain, wanting her name to reflect her empty state of being for a time.

The two daughter in laws, Ruth was ‘friendship’ which is fitting as she truly had a deep friendship with her mother in law that was plain to see. Where as Orpah was ‘stubbornness’ which shone through in her harder heart to God and her desire to go back to the known, the comfortable.

Boaz then comes into the picture and his name is ‘in His strength’ and you see from the very first encounter in the field where he was kind to the harvesters and noticed a woman and engaged with her in a caring and respectful way. Then stepping it up a notch further to marriage and care. His heart aligned with God’s but you do see it’s all in God’s strength and not his own.

Each name was in a way telling the characters story and showing the fit in one small or significant way throughout. I use to roll my eyes at the attention to detail God has in the bible. Why did it matter to me who was related to who, and who had come from where. But I see now that it all paints a picture and there is indeed meaning for us to glean in it all.

As I poured over the passage and resources to unpack it for the class I was captivated by so much. You pretty much keep the lions share for yourself and pour out some due to time. But how I’ve enjoyed and pondered over the names. Recalling when I was seven and we were about to be flower girls for our host families son. A conversation was had that made me ask the meaning of my name and I found out that the root word was ‘Natal’ which was ‘Christmas Child’. As I discovered the meaning of other people’s names I felt like I got ripped off.

In my young arrogance I didn’t want to have a name that was all about someone else. Nor did I want a name that was linked to a day that was not the most fun in our household. Now all these years later as I pour over Ruth and the meanings in names, and have been through the highs and lows of life there is a sweetness that comes from the realisation of my name. At long last!

I am grateful that my name is anchored to Jesus, I am humbled that my name is not about me but One that is greatest. I am in awe that God saw my parents choose a name as they watched the ’79 games and a Romanian runner was named Natalia, one they could agree on due to students and clients spoiling the other contenders for one of them. Now all these years on when He is my anchor, and I stand with a heart captivated by Him and choosing to live out of the box in obedience, at many times my knees still knocking in disbelief but joyful humility.

I recall a dream some years ago that was what I needed to the letter in a time when words of speaking and teaching were given. The fear that gripped me as I wanted a recalculation on the road that seemed set before me and yet God’s tender and correcting ways came into play. In my dream I stood on a stage and spoke, heart pounding, and grateful to be wrapped once I stepped off the stage. Ladies around me saying nice things. The second time I did the same but I got booed off the stage. I got out the back and the same ladies were yelling at me, telling me I’d brought them embarrassment. I went off and cried and God showed up, telling me that when it was done in Him it was right, but when I got arrogant and did it in me I tanked. I’ve never forgotten that.

Even that dream before the craziness unfolded, only God is that tender. To cause growth through a dream so that I did not stumble and make it about something it should not be. So that from the start of taking those scary steps I knew my place and didn’t need to suffer the consequence of what could be. His heart is always for us, always for His namesake and always giving us grace upon grace. See it really is all about Him, whether that be the meaning of our name, our life or not it’s still the case.

Today as I marvel at the meaning of my name I see how faithfully God has shown up each time my knees knocked in obedience, and I love it all the more. But even more so as I think to all the crossroads where I wavered, even where I was disobedient and stubborn, where He pursued me and drew me back, mended and tended as only He could, re-establishing so I don’t miss out. God has always had my back in the highs and lows. How fitting that the meaning of my name is all about Him and not me. And that is the safest place for me to be.

There is great meaning in a name…there is great meaning in Who we align to and pursue, in what we choose our lives to be about. How I pray for all of us that more and more our days will reflect Jesus, and more and more our life will be grounded in the One that brings true joy and growth and satisfaction. From washing the dishes, darting about doing errands, loving and connecting with others, walking out the roads set before us and more.

About the Author

Natalia has bravely written two books that show a road not often talked about … infertility. She is real and vulnerable in it. Yet you see how God can turn broken pieces of her life into something beautiful, where deep faith and rich growth are seen.

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