|OME NAMES HAVE POWER. WHEN WE GO looking for a job, we like to know a name that we can mention to get us more cordial treatment or even preferred consideration. Although we may not like to admit it, many of us are ardent name-droppers. We use names to our advantage.
Like most other people, I’m reluctant to say that I ever used a name to get a benefit, but I have. I had a ticket for a graduation ceremony at an institution where I had served as an administrator. Graduations at that school are a highly choreographed affair, every aspect well-planned and carried out with precision. That’s admirable, but it can be somewhat frustrating to individuals trying to access the limited seating.
My invitation bore a colored sticker entitling me to one of the prized seats in a special section, but when I arrived, I found that I had a problem. There was only one sticker on my invitation card, and I had brought my younger son with me. At the door I was told he could not enter. I was troubled, but other pharaohs had arisen who did not know this “Josephine” and, unfortunately, they were doing the ushering. No, they said, my son could not enter the main auditorium; he would have to sit in the balcony.
I asked one of the ushers to call Mrs. B, an official who had a strategic part in the seating arrangements. She came, and my son and I were escorted in, the eyes of the young ushers trailing after us. A name in the right place can be a great help.
A Bigger Name
The Bible assures us: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Prov. 18:10, KJV). The Lord’s name is good in every place and in every situation. Physical safety comes to mind from the imagery of the tower. God’s name is a place of refuge: nothing can touch us there. The text evokes an image of ancient warfare. The enemy hurls his darts and the intended victim runs into a fortification, escaping unhurt. In today’s army, the soldier runs to a bunker and is safe. The name of the Lord is a strong tower against enemy fire.
Mere human names can’t provide this level of security. God’s name packs unmatched power. In our can-do, sophisticated age, we still feel vulnerable. We seek protection from the looming “destruction that walks at noonday”—or at any moment the forces of darkness decide to unleash another terrorist attack. But terrorists are only the high-profile dimension of our insecurity. Evil men and women are always trying to get our money, our possessions, our lives. We grow exhausted simply watching on television the replay of inhuman attacks on the innocent. We wonder when our turn will come. It’s an unsafe world in which we live, but the Lord has put up His name as a place of safety against the dragon-wrath of our fellow human beings. We have His Word on it.
Beyond Physical Danger
While protection from physical attack is of major importance to the Lord, His name is also a strong tower that hides us from far more than physical harm. We need to sense God’s name as a powerful protection against other subtle, covert weapons formed against us to destroy our Christian witness. When our spiritual lives come under fire from the enemy of our souls, the name of the Lord is indeed the only place to run to. His name is a stout defense against the fiery darts intended to wound and cripple us. The name of the Lord is a strong tower against the many devil-inspired weapons launched from every angle.
The devil is also skilled at using our past as a weapon to threaten us with spiritual annihilation. When we are alone and prone to reflection, he slings our past mistakes at us with deadly accuracy. But we must never allow ourselves to be overcome by Satan’s deadly ploy. God’s name is available to shield us from our past. In His safe tower He reminds us that He has blotted out with a thick cloud every confessed sin (Isa. 44:22), and in the tower of His name we find peace from a pursuing past.
Christians are called to focus on the simplicity Christ’s example inspires, but we often find ourselves being drawn into the embrace of a materialistic, popular culture. We want all the things the Gentiles have, and too often we spend our lives trying to get them. None of us seems immune to the pressure to get more money and buy bigger and better things. Our list of “must-haves” is as troubling as it is long. Author Rick Warren, in The Purpose Driven Life, reminds us: “If when you lie awake at night and can’t sleep you think about money, then you are materialistic.”
But materialism is not only about money. It includes all the secularist desires that run counter to the simplicity of Christ. Materialism obscures our vision and consumes our spirituality. The name of the Lord is a place of safety from the materialistic urge. Under the cover of the name we come to understand that real life does not depend on the abundance of our possessions (Luke 12:15).
When Facing Disappointment and Failure
The powerful name of the Lord is a strong refuge in times of disappointment and failure. Few of us have experienced failure on the scale that John Mark did. Young and exuberant, he must have felt privileged to be in the company of great evangelists such as Paul and Barnabas. What exhilaration! Seeing the crowds at the meetings! Watching lives changed! But something went wrong for young John Mark. Was it homesickness? Was it the food, the taunts? The difficulties started to pile up, and he couldn’t bear them any longer. He decided to leave the dream team. And Paul didn’t take well
to the young man’s quitting.
Mark’s action resulted in the breakup of the evangelistic dream team, creating a painful rupture in the gospel ministry of the early church.
Was this ever a situation for discouragement! He could have given in to despondency. He could even have allowed his heart to harden against Paul, against the new gospel, against the Lord Jesus Himself. He could have nursed resentment against Paul for aborting his promising career. Such things happen among Christians, and the temptation to be beaten down by circumstances becomes very strong. But Mark didn’t allow himself to be caught in that trap. Instead, the name of the Lord gave him protection, made him safe from bitterness and resentment, and fitted him for later profitable service in the ministry (see 2 Tim. 4:11).
. . . and More Danger
“By any means possible” is the devil’s motto. He seeks to attack the Christian through physical desires, appetite, illicit sex, unrestrained passions. “The body,” Ellen White says, “is the only medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the upbuilding of character. Hence it is that the adversary of souls directs his temptations to
the enfeebling and degrading of the physical powers” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 130). The name of the Lord has been tested and proven a secure place to run to when we are tempted to sin with our bodies.
Joseph knew all about this kind of attack, and he also knew about the tower. His story, which has been told again and again, presents a picture of a young man who didn’t use the excuse of youthful indiscretion to minimize sinful conduct. When temptation rushed in and became unbearably strong, he made a dash for the tower, even though it meant leaving his garment with the enemy. This was real warfare, strong enemy fire that he could not withstand on his own. The enemy catches us because we have not trained ourselves to run to the tower for safety.
Whatever the powerful enemy offensive, if you call on the Lord’s name, you will be instantly transported to the tower. And the tower is extremely portable; it is wherever you are. You can find refuge from doubt, selfishness, envy, jealousy, malice, slander, loneliness—in an instant. As soon as the devil launches his attack, call upon the name, make a run for the tower, and watch him back off and skulk away.
It’s unfortunate that many Christians do not know the security that the name of the Lord provides. The stories of those who overcame the devil’s attacks in the past by running to the name are strong evidence that it is potent. It really works. When our turn comes to face intense enemy fire, let’s call upon the name of the Lord and find the promised security.
Yes, there’s something about that name!
Judith P. Nembhard, a retired English teacher and administrator, writes from Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.A.