Love: Week Four – Day Three

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine. – Isaiah 43:1 (NRSV)

In 2012, an independent film called Beast of the Southern Wild was released. The movie was about a little girl named Hushpuppy trying to survive, in the bayou of Louisiana. The young actress who played Hushpuppy auditioned for the role at just five years old. In 2013, at age nine, she became the youngest nominee for Best Actress, the first African-American child actor to earn an Oscar nomination, and the only person born in the 21st century to be nominated for an Academy Award. Her name is Quvenzhané [Kwa-Vin-Je-Nay] Wallis.

That’s probably not a name you hear a lot. In the middle of her success, Hollywood was having a difficult time making sense of her, and especially, her name. TV Personalities decided to bypass the issue by giving her the nickname “Little Q,” a nickname she did not request.

It may seem harmless, but the message was clear. Despite her enormous success and talent, her name was not worth knowing. She’s not the only actor who’s had a hard time because of their name. Actors James Rodriguez and Ramón Estévez changed their names to sound less Hispanic and be taken more seriously. You may know them by their stage names James Roday and Martin Sheen.

In Isaiah 43:1, God calls out to his people with words of tender love saying, “Don’t be afraid because I have made everything alright. I am calling you by name, your real name. You are my child and you are worth knowing. The real you, not the mask you put on to make others feel comfortable. I love you as you are.” To call someone by their name seems so ordinary. We do it all the time without thinking. However, when the God of creation stoops down to our level, He takes great care to refer to us by name. Jesus wants us to know that we matter and that we are loved for who we are.

As Christmas draws even closer, you might find your name written on the tags of gifts or in the address line of a greeting card. Whenever you see your name written this week take time to reflect on God’s personal call on your life. You matter. You are loved. You are the recipient of the most wonderful gift, and it’s addressed specifically to you – the gift of salvation wrapped in human skin.

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