I said I’d never do it. But I did it. And actually, I’ve been somewhere near the worst of them all. I said I’d never be one of those moms who went through the whole list of her kids’ names before hitting on the right one. But at least once a week the entire time my kids were growing up, I would want to say something to one of them and…there it was: roll call. I’d hit every name on my five-kid list, and sometimes even throw in a couple of my own siblings and a stray cousin or two.
To add still more offense, I would often manage to get a couple of the pets’ names mixed in there, too. You can imagine how the kids loved that. At least I would fight the urge at that point to say, “Sit. Stay. Good teenager.” Well, most of the time. But it got downright embarrassing. I thought about adding a “Banana” and a “Fanna-fo” hoping they might be fooled into thinking it was some kind of name game.
I would’ve just given up and numbered my kids, but I had no doubt I would’ve called the wrong number. By the time you call your kids the wrong number once or twice, they’re likely to be insulted enough to completely tune you out anyway. “You have reached a kid who has been disconnected or is no longer listening….”
I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day. I can’t even remember why now, but somewhere in the conversation she said something surprising and I said, “Surely you’re kidding.” She said, “I’m totally not kidding. And don’t call me Susan.” Then there was a long pause. I think we were both processing. After the processing came a couple of snickers and she said, “Oh wait. It’s ‘Shirley,’ isn’t it.” Then we both laughed uproariously for a good ten minutes.
Sometimes there’s just no substitution for the right name. In Acts 4, Peter and John were standing before the rulers trying to explain whose name they were using to do all the preaching and healing they had been doing—the preaching and healing they had just spent the night in jail for, by the way. But Peter didn’t need a roll call. He told them flat out, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).
No substitute. No other name. Not Susan. Not any name on any list I might rattle off. The name is ever and always: Jesus. He is the one who has all power to do all saving. And He makes salvation available to every person of every name.
How glorious that our Heavenly Father has given Jesus the greatest name, the greatest, most honored and holy place. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV).
Surely that’s reason to celebrate! Though let me make it clear, I’m not calling you “Shirley.” And please don’t call me Susan.