Summary: Our Future is determined by the greatness of our prayers and the One who answers them.
Johnny Cash is often known simply as “The Man in Black.” His deep voice and craggy face are well suited for tough-guy songs like “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line.” But there is a song he did a number of years ago that doesn’t fit that mold at all. Oh, it starts out that way. The song tells the story of a man who is still angry at his father, who abandoned he and his mother almost immediately after he was born, leaving them penniless and alone.
But his father’s desertion isn’t what he’s angry about:
“Now, I don’t blame him ‘cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me ‘Sue.’”
The rest of the song details the physical and emotional suffering that gets inflicted on little Sue.”
Not surprisingly, the Boy named Sue grows into an angry man who is quick to get into a fight – especially with anyone who finds humor in his name.
Sue makes it his quest to find his Dad, not out of any positive motivation, but simply because he’s determined to kill him for ruining his life.
He finds him in a bar one day and they have a spectacular fight, with Sue eventually getting the upper hand. As Sue stands poised with gun in hand, his father offers this as an explanation
"Son, this world is rough;
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong."
Not only does his Dad not apologize, he tells his son he ought to thank him for giving him the name that made him so tough.
Of course, since this song is intended to be pure silliness, Sue doesn’t kill his Dad, they end up embracing. And Sue vows that if he ever has a son, he’ll name him, “Bill or George or ANYTHING but Sue!”
For the character in the song, his unusual name meant much more to him than our names generally mean to us.
His whole life was shaped by his name.
We may like or hate our name. Or we may not feel strongly about it either way. In our culture, we don’t make much of a connection between our names and ourselves. How many of you know what your name means?
I know what mine means: Mary means bitter. (If you don’t believe me, read the first chapter of the book of Ruth today.) Gift shop owners don’t buy plaques with that on it!
But I’m not really concerned about the meaning of my name, because after all, What’s in a Name?
In the Ancient World, names had tremendous significance
A name was meant to capture the essence of an individual. It wasn’t merely a way to identify an individual Like a SS #, But to reveal a person’s character.
to know name was to know the person, because the name represented his personality, Even his destiny – his future. In Israel, as in the surrounding nations, a name was almost a revelation about the person.
You never decided the baby’s name ahead of time
They would never have published a book of baby names
You might pick your child’s name based on something that was happening at the time of birth
If there was an excavation going on, you might name him "Doug."
If you had a flat tire on the way to the hospital, you could name him “Jack”
You might pick the name on the basis of some characteristic of the child
Jacob’s brother was named Esau, which meant “hairy” – and he was!
They also thought it would be a particular blessing for a child whose name was based on something that was said when the mother was in labor. Can you imagine?
No matter how nice your mother was, you wouldn’t want to be named something she said while she was in labor!
It could be a very interesting exercise, while you’re sitting around at dinner next week on Mothers’ Day to ask your mother what your name would have been if it was taken from something she said while she was in labor!
Of course, if you ask her that, you have to listen patiently to “labor stories.”
Women love to tell each other stories about how terrible their labor was.
And they’ll tell each other over and over!
I was once in a home group – 2 young couples & me – where it seemed like every week they would somehow end up talking about labor stories.