One of my first reads for the A.R.K.S. summer reading program was Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer. The tale follows Little Brother through several seasons and many adventures, from his boyhood to early teen years. Armer’s writing captures the flavor, cadence, and heart song of the Navajo people.
Woven throughout were many echoes of redemption, traces of truth that are rooted in the Bible. One Waterless Mountain passage in particular struck me (pages 158–159). It’s embedded in a conversation between Little Brother and Uncle; Uncle has just commented that the Navajo do not name the songs they sing because that would make the songs common. Little Brother wonders aloud, asking Uncle to explain one of their traditions:
“Is that why mothers do not speak their children’s names?”
“That is just the reason. Children are precious and mothers do not want everyone in the world knowing what name sings in the mother’s heart.”
Although we do not hold to this tradition in our American culture, we do recognize the honor of naming our children. Whenever I hear of a birth—or a pregnancy for that matter—even if I do not know the proud new parents, I immediately want to know the name, to hear it roll about in my mind, to consider its sound and cadence. Parents in our culture proudly proclaim the names they have bestowed, giving the meaning or tracing the origin or mentioning the honoree.
Names are important to God too. When the Lord Jesus gave John a vision of what’s to come for the redeemed, new names were part of the package. Jesus explained:
“I will give [each redeemed one] a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it” (Rev. 2:17).
How lovely to know that the Lord has a name for me, one that is so precious that only He knows it. One day He will show me the name He has bestowed on me, and we will share its secret.
Perhaps this is similar to the Navajo; the names that Jesus bestows are so precious, they are not for common use. It is for use between the Giver and the recipient alone. I like the idea that no one else knows the name that Jesus has for me. Even more so, I like the idea that this special name sings in my Savior’s heart.