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Had a picture given to me after a church service sometime back. A picture of a dog. A snapshot of a scruffy red hound.


It’s not often that people show me a picture of their dog. Babies, yes. Grandchildren, often. Spouses, occasionally. But dogs? This was a first. I didn’t know what to say.

“Quite a dog,” I attempted. The couple looked at each other, snickered, and looked back at me. They knew something I didn’t.


“What’s the scoop?” I asked. (Poor choice of nouns.) “We named him Max!” they proclaimed in unison.

Again I was stumped. Was this a joke or an honor? A cut or a compliment?

I took the safe route. “Uh . . . I’ve never had a dog named after me before.”

“We knew you’d be flattered,” she explained. “We’ve enjoyed your books so much that when we got ‘Puppy-boo’ we thought of you.”



I said thanks and pocketed the photo. Only later did I think of some appropriate replies. “Not the first Max to be in a doghouse,” was one. Too bad I didn’t think of it in time. A friend later gave me an article reporting that Max is the most popular name for dogs in America. So maybe I’ll get another chance.

Can’t say I’ve given a lot of thought to my given name. Never figured it made much difference. I do recall a kid in elementary school wondering if I were German. I said no. “Then why do you have a German name?” I didn’t even know Max was German. He assured me it was. So I decided to find out.

“Why did you name me Max?” I asked Mom when I got home.

She looked up from the sink and replied, “You just looked like one.”

Like I say, I haven’t given much thought to my name. But there is one name that has caught my interest lately. A name only God knows. A name only God gives. A unique, one-of-a-kind, once-to-be-given name.


What am I talking about? Well, you may not have known it, but God has a new name for you. When you get home, he won’t call you Alice or Bob or Juan or Geraldo. The name you’ve always heard won’t be the one he uses. When God says he will make all things new, he means it. You will have a new home, a new body, a new life, and you guessed it, a new name.


“I will give some of the hidden manna to everyone who wins the victory. I will also give to each one who wins the victory a white stone with a new name written on it. No one knows this new name except the one who receives it” (Rev. 2:17).


Makes sense. Fathers are fond of giving their children special names. Princess. Tiger. Sweetheart. Bubba. Angel. I have a friend whose father calls her Willy. Her name is Priscilla. Growing up, he teased her by saying Priscilly. That became Silly-willy. Today he calls her Willy. No one else does. Even if they did, no one else could say it the way her dad does.


Now maybe you didn’t get a special name. Or maybe you’ve devoted much of your life to making a name for yourself. Or perhaps your name, like mine, is popular in the animal kingdom. Whatever, any earthly name will soon be forgotten. The only name that matters is the one God has reserved just for you.


Or maybe you have received special names. Names you never sought. Names of derision and hurt. Names like “loser” or “cheat,” “cripple,” “infected,” or “divorced.” If so, I’m sorry. You know how a name can hurt. But you can also imagine how a name can heal.

Especially when it comes from the lips of God.

Isn’t it incredible to think that God has saved a name just for you? One you don’t even know? We’ve always assumed that the name we got is the name we will keep. Not so.


Imagine what that implies. Apparently your future is so promising it warrants a new title. The road ahead is so bright a fresh name is needed. Your eternity is so special no common name will do.

So God has one reserved just for you. There is more to your life than you ever thought. There is more to your story than what you have read. There is more to your song than what you have sung. A good author saves the best for last. A great composer keeps his finest for the finish. And God, the author of life and composer of hope, has done the same for you.


The best is yet to be.

And so I urge you, don’t give up.

And so I plead, finish the journey.

And so I exhort, be there.

Be there when God whispers your name.


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