When my son was in his first year, I was preparing for his next doctor’s check-up appointment by going through the checklist of milestones that he was supposed to be able to accomplish at his age (sit up by himself, roll over, make cooing noises, etc). I read through the list, checking off, “yes, yes, yes, yes,” but then I came to a stop at one of them: “Responds to his name.”
He was a few months older than the suggested time frame to which he should have been able to accomplish this task. As I thought about it, I actually couldn’t remember a time when he had in any way responded to the sound of his name.
I wasn’t overly worried, but it was time to experiment! I started to call his name. “Matthew?” No response. I went right up beside him and called his name. “MATTHEW!” No response. No matter how I said it, he just wouldn’t respond!
I spent the rest of the day a little worried. As I went about my day, I spent some time praying for him. As I did, I realized that, along with his given name, my family actually also called him by several different nicknames.
Mr. Man, Handsome, Buddy Boo, Matty-Matt, Big Man, (Silly) Goose, Baby Boy, Monster, and Monkey – just to name a few!
I figured out that he was being called by so many different names all the time that he wasn’t hearing his own name enough to actually know that it was his given name – the only name that truly matters!
Today he is almost three, and of course he still has a few pet names! But now, it’s not only the sound of his name that makes him turn towards me – he just knows my voice, whether I call him Matthew or Goose.
Sometimes I find this to be true of myself. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, helper, and blogger, among other things. I respond to many different names, but my most important name is Sarah, child of God (John 1:12).
There are many days where I might sense God calling to me, wanting me to connect with Him, but the cries of “mom,” “wife,” and “helper,” seem to be much louder, winning my attention. The more I put my other names first, the harder it is for me to hear when God calls after me.
In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. (Proverbs 3:6)
When I am intentional to respond to God’s call first by setting aside time to pray, worship and invest in my relationship with Him, it becomes much easier to hear His voice and direction in all areas of my life.
I then feel Him with me when I hear the call of other names and it is easier to respond to those other names with respect, patience, love and wisdom.
Sometimes as I try to answer all the names that are calling for my attention, I start to feel overwhelmed. I can’t seem to find the time to respond to everyone and everything. I have found that by putting God first in my life, He helps me to make room for everything else that is of importance to me.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, an all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
I have learned that I can’t do it alone. I need to put God first. I need to answer to the name “Sarah, child of God” each and every day. When I lose sight of putting God first, I become less productive and often fail to respond in love and patience with those that I love. When I connect with God, His presence and guidance direct my steps in all that I do!