“To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it known only to him who receives it.” (Rev 2:17)
When I was growing up, my older brother had a nickname for me. He called me the Amazing Zud. It was a strange nickname. It didn’t matter that Zud was the name of some random detergent cleaner because it was the name he had given me, and from the beginning it let me know I was special to him. He didn’t call anyone one else Amazing or Zud, just me.
When God says that in heaven He is going to give us a white stone with a special name on it that only he and us will know, He is saying that His love is individual, not generic. From early days I have heard that God loves me. I must admit that I have heard that as God’s generic love that He has for all human beings. But love is never generic, it is personal. I hear in this verse and by means of the stone with my special name on it that God loves me, Tommy Thompson, with all of my quirks, faults, and failures. He loves me. And He loves each of us with that same unique, personal love. He delights in you and me.
Love transforms. When we know that we are loved, personally and passionately, in spite of all of our inadequacies, we are freed from the bondage of always having to measure up. What freedom! I spend much of my days trying to measure up to other’s expectations. Paul expresses this when he says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) This is the gift God has given us and the gift that we can give each other – free, unconditional, in-spite-of-all-our-faults love.
I wonder what my name will be in heaven. Names create identity. Jesus gave Peter the nickname Rock, implying that Peter, who was wild and erratic, would one day become the steady one. He nicknamed him into his future self. He called James and John, the Sons of Thunder. Perhaps he had other nicknames for the other disciples. I wouldn’t be surprised. I feel weak now, full of insecurities and faults that I can’t quite seem to overcome. I wonder whether God sees through all of that to a name which calls out my strength. I wonder what that name will be. Regardless of what it is, it will be my name, and I feel sure in my deepest core that when I hear it, I will know more deeply than I have ever known that He loves me, Tommy Thompson, personally, passionately, and forever. It will be spectacular. It will take my breath away as somehow, I will be known and not ashamed. In that name, given on a white stone, I will see love as I have never seen it before.
Take a few minutes and imagine what name God will give you when you see Him face to face. Write down what that name might be. See the white stone and the name that speaks of the person God created you to be. What is your special name?