We all have reasons to want to change our names
There was a time in my life when I hated my name, both my first name and my last name. Growing up in a very dysfunctional family of origin made it extra difficult to bear my father’s first name and middle name and his last name. By the time I was in my late teens and in my early to mid twenties I was so sick and tired of it all, and my estrangement from my family was such, that I just wanted to sever the last umbilical cord, my name and connection to my family of origin. I wanted to create a whole new identity. I even considered taking my wife’s maiden name.
I remember how difficult those days were when I was wrestling with my identity and identification as a member of my family of origin and all the dysfunctional issues that arose in the mid 1980’s to early 1990’s. I had stood by my father, and when people came forward to verify what had transpired in a counseling relationship, I felt as betrayed as the victims. I worked through the issues, as did my wife, and as a family we forged ahead, separated from any kind of engagement with my family of origin. I came to terms that I was fine with changing my name. I had the support of my wife, and that was all that mattered.
Not once, not twice, but three times
Then it happened. Three times in short order, I had encounters, one was while I was in the shower, and two others with people who do not know each other, who also verified the same thing. I was in the shower when I heard the “voice of God” speaking to me. It was not an audible voice, but it was just as real as an audible voice. It was one of those “you know that you know that you know” moments. I heard the Lord speak to me, that it was not my mother who named me, but it was the Lord who had named me, and that Samuel, was my name, for I would hear the voice of the Lord and I would proclaim it, much as the prophet of ancient Israel, Samuel, had done in his day. So here was this prophetic call on my life, and my name was a prophetic name. I did not dismiss it out of hand. I just simply took it in, and absorbed it. Down deep in my inner man, I wanted nothing more than to change my name, change it completely and break off from my family of origin, no name connection whatsoever.
I ended up within a six week span having these two other encounters with men I did not even know. One was at a regional church meeting, where ministry was taking place. This man stared at me. It was one of those things that when you see it, you kind of do a “double take” and look back, and the person is staring so much at you, you feel like they are drilling holes in the back of your head! This man finally had the nerve to come up to me, and say, “Hey, please don’t mind me, but, the Lord has been bugging me all evening, and He won’t stop bugging me until I tell you this. So, please don’t take issue with me. I am just obeying the voice of the Lord. OK? I have to simply tell you, the Lord gave you your name. That’s it. That’s all it is. Thanks.”
The other was at a conference at CTF (Catch The Fire, a.k.a., Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF)) a few weeks later. Now hearing for myself in the shower, that was one thing. That was my own encounter with God, and I should have acted upon it, based on my own encounter and experience, but my pain and my desire to totally reject my past, that was stronger than my desire to please God and obey His voice. So that one time was one thing. But hearing it the second time from that man at the regional church meeting, well that was twice. Once is bad enough, but twice, then you are really walking on egg shells! You are really putting your life, and faith to the test. I was stubborn wanting my own way with God and my own way with who I thought I was, and my identity and my name. This was who I was, and I did not want to have God messing with my identity. Or so I thought.
So at this conference, this man is praying during the prayer time and he is walking up and down the prayer line, watching and praying, and he stops on occasion to come alongside and pray for people, after the ministry team has finished praying. I am lying on the floor, just resting in this deep place with God, when this man comes up to me, and gently touches my shoulder. He is praying in tongues, and I feel the heat going from my shoulder to my chest. Then he says, “The Lord says that He has called you by name. Your destiny is secure in Him.” Then he left. BOOM! Just like that, the third time I had heard God wanting me to leave my name alone.
Three times and that secured it for me
So there it was three times in six weeks. God revealed to me, directly, and through two other strangers, that He had given me my name. It was not my mother who named me, but God inspired my mother to name me. My father never wanted a son named after him. I was to be named Alexander James Buick, not Samuel McKelvey Buick. My father was upset with my mother, as she withheld it from my father for eight days, as after eight days in Northern Ireland, you had to pay money to change the name on the birth certificate. My parents were poor missionaries in France and came back to Belfast to have me born as a British subject through the National Health Service, which did not cost anything for my parents to have me born a Brit. Had they stayed in France, it would have cost a fortune to have me born as a foreign national, as the UK and Northern Ireland were yet a part of the European Community. So, I was born a Brit, and I was born bearing my father’s full name.
Here I was all those decades later, wanting to change my name because of all the dysfunctional family crap I was raised in, and God intervenes to let me know, that my name was given to me by God, through my mother. That was a bit of head banger moment for me. It really startled me and provoked me. From that time forward, I began to grow in my identity as a believer, as a joint heir with Christ Jesus, with Jesus as my elder brother, and with the heart set on the fact that God loved me enough, to name me after my father, so it had to matter to God.
I realized too over the years that each of us have a destiny
God views time in a non-linear fashion. Historians say that time is cylindrical and that there are convergent times where the people are in the right place at the right time, and there occurs a prophetic convergence, where in linear time, at a time and date in history, the person is in exactly the situation where they need to be for the fulfilment of a particular moment in space and time. When you look at the lives of Bible characters in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, you see this “fullness of time” element that Paul spoke of in Galatians in reference to the first coming of Jesus Christ, where he states:
“4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7, ESV)
I believe that God does indeed have plans for people and that people can delay, derail, and miss out on what God has for them
God is sovereign and God is never surprised by anything we may do or not do. We have free will in so far as we are free moral agents to act and do what we are predisposed to do. Probably the best and easiest way to explain that is when people who have gender identity issues, and they speak of “always being this way,” then they are saying this is how I have always been. They have a predisposed disposition that they have always known, of being attracted to the same gender. This is how I believe free will also applies. We are predisposed to choose what we have always been predisposed to choose and it is our free choice to choose and make those choices. There is no one holding us in an arm lock to compel us to choose a particular way or action.
Lori-Anne and I have a life verse that we have treasured all of our lives that we have shared as we have journeyed this married life together. It was used at our wedding in 1983. It was used at Carragh’s birth in 1984. It was used on the occasion of Caitlin’s birth in 1988, as well as the birth of Erinn in 1989. We used it at the occasion of Carragh’s graduation to glory, and it is engraved on her grave stone. We continue to use this passage of Scripture at pivotal points in our faith journey and walk with God. I used it when Lori-Anne faced surgery in 2014, and Lori-Anne used it and proclaimed it over my life when I battled cancer in 2015-2016. I cling to it and proclaim this as a prayer and declaration on a regular basis. Jeremiah the prophet spoke these words of hope and encouragement just before his people were being taken into captivity and exile. He said in Jeremiah 29:
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13, ESV)
God not only knows your name, He gives you your name for a reason
If you have studied history, studied biblical characters, you will notice that place names and people names have meaning and intention in the mind and heart of God. People name places like Jacob who slept with his head on a rock and had a dynamic encounter with God, and thereafter he changed the name to Bethel (Genesis 28); you have David routing the enemy of Israel at Baal Perazim, naming the place where “the Lord has broken out” (2 Samuel 5). In the New Testament you have Mary naming her son Immanuel, just as instructed by the angel to do (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14), as well as Saul of Tarsus, changing his name to Paul (Acts 13). There are so many more examples I could name but these will suffice.
I know that God knows my name. He really knows me by the name I bear and I want to honour Him in how I live out and bear that name in this life.
I believe that when my father ended his time of full time Christian ministry, he circumvented a destiny that was upon his life and upon my own. I was named after him, and more importantly, God named me. Legacies are important. The inheritances we have, not just material and wealth, but also the spiritual legacies, we pass these on to our children. I have spiritual gifts that my father had, and these too I have received from God. I have natural talents that have been passed on through DNA, but the spiritual gifts have been imparted by God for service to Him and for the sake of His Kingdom and for the sake of His son Jesus Christ.
There were gifts that I despised at one time in my life, when I was wounded and immature. These gifts were the same gifts my father operated and walked in. I did not want to be my “father’s son.” That is the last thing I ever wanted. But God wooed me and loved me and healed me up, to the point years later, I can honour my father’s memory and be thankful for him. I love the Lord, I love the Scriptures, I love to read, write, and speak in public, largely due to my father, the giftings he operated in. The reason I played sports and love team sports today is due to my father. The reason I love to draw and paint, and love to walk in the woods and go camping, is largely due to his influence in my life.
I believe in divine destiny and that we each have a purpose in this life. I also believe that families have a destiny to fulfill and that I have an opportunity to fulfill what was on my father’s life to fulfill, and that is why my bearing the same name is important for this time in my life and this time in this season. There is something in the spirit realm going on, that I need to be engaged in. I have a place and a time to fulfill what only I can fulfill.
You too, you have a destiny, and for that to be made known to you, you need to know who you are. What is your name? What significance does your name have in your family history, and in your context? Ask God and He will reveal it to you.
1-4 But now, God’s Message,
the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you. (Isaiah 43, MSG)
I have been given literally a “second chance”. I could have died this past year. I am alive, and I am alive because I have not yet finished my course. I have not yet completed what I need to complete. So I run this race, and I trust God to enable me to be about the things He has set before me to do. I know I have a name, and a destiny to fulfill.
I have a name, and God knows my name. More importantly He knows me. That is implied in Him knowing my name. He calls me by name. I am not simply and humanoid with a number. I am a human being, made in His image, and I bear a name that He has given me. Just as God named Adam in the Garden and called him by name and walked with him, God calls me by name and walks with me, and indwells me by His Holy Spirit. I am possessed by the Spirit of God.
5 “Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.” (Jeremiah 1, MSG)
I am looking ahead to see just what God is going to do in the days ahead. I trust Him. I can rely on Him. He knows me. He knows me by name. And He knows YOU by name!
~ Sam Buick