My wife and I have been blessed to raise three sons. Like most dads, I suspect, I remember with crystal clarity the first time I saw each one of them, fresh from their mother’s womb. Watching doctors deliver each one of them, then watching as some delivery room nurse washed and bundled them up, placing them beneath a heating lamp. Each son totally different from his brothers. Each possessing an identity, a unique form, a look, and potential custom made by God himself. And in all three birthings, one specific question was asked of his mother and me. Each time a son was born, we were asked the same question: ‘Does he have a name.’

Three times, over the course of about six years, at the moment of the birthing of one of our sons, we answered that question, ‘Does he have a name?’  “Yes, his name is Marcus Stephen Jones,” we said with our first born. And when that same question was asked about two years later, concerning our newly arrived second son, we answered again. “Yes. He has a name. His name is Nathan Jacob Jones.” And then, nearly two years after our second son arrived, a third son was born, and that same question was asked: ‘Does he have a name?’ Same question, but importantly, a different answer: “He has a name. His name is Simeon Daniel Jones.”

As they grew up in our home, all three of our sons were identified by the specific and personal names my wife and I gave them. And I determined as they grew to be men, to instill within them the importance of guarding that name, keeping watch over that name, protecting their good name. For, the Book says “A good name is to be more highly treasured than gold.”

In Genesis, chapter 2, the bible says that God allowed Adam to name all the animals. In fact, the bible says God brought the animals to Adam, to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

Naming is a high and almost holy responsibility. But naming something God created is not the same as ‘owning’ it. Adam didn’t own all the animals he named. Identity and  ownership are not the same. The fact that my wife and I gave each of our sons their unique name did not mean we were the proud owners of three incredible souls. Their futures rested in the hands of a loving God, their lives under the rightful ownership of the God who gave them breath, and meaning and purpose and … life. I wanted to remind myself and my sons of that truth, every day.

I memorized a six-word phrase; a family-specific directive that I declared to my sons as they left for school every day; and, although they are now grown and have families of their own, I still occasionally remind them about ownership. “Don’t forget who you belong to.”

Those six short words represent an eternal and profound challenge for us all, I think, no matter our family name: ‘Don’t Forget Who You Belong To.

The 24th Ps, says it well: The earth is the Lords, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;

Sometimes, remembering that … is such an easy thing to forget.

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