The Name Game

Shirley, Shirley
Bo-ber-ley, bo-na-na fanna
Fo-fer-ley. fee fi mo-mer-ley, Shirley!

Shirley Ellis


Popular around 1965, the Name Game was one of my favorite songs as a child. I felt like a famous big wig when the song played on the radio because the first rhymed name was my mom’s name. I honestly haven’t thought about that song in a long time. However, names in general have been on my mind in the last several weeks.

While writing the third installment of the Letters to Layton series, I’ve developed some new characters. Selecting names for them has been a blast. I’ve even had some readers give me suggestions. Often the name has to fit how I perceive the character to be. In some instances, the character may demand a different name than the one I’ve selected because as they reveal who they are, they also reveal a more fitting name.

Moving from fiction to reality, I have had the name of my father-in-law on my mind and heart recently.  Ray Williams, one of the finest men I’ve ever known and loved, passed into Heaven early January. Leaving behind a very notable legacy in the community, his church, and with his family, he will be greatly missed on earth. Experience with my mom’s passing taught me that our family is going to miss hearing his name spoken in conversations.  Ray.

In our modern era, names are often chosen for their sound or to honor someone. Biblical names were often descriptors of the individual.  A recent Bible study on the names of God reminded me that the Heavenly Father has names that are beautiful to pronounce, but even more beautiful to understand. Join me in reflecting on one of  them.

El RoiThe God who sees me” (Pronounce “el raw EE”)

God reveals this name to Hagar in Genesis 16:13-14.   This is the only mention of it.  Used, mistreated, fearful, and feeling unimportant, pregnant Hagar fled from her owner, Sarai, and was alone in the desert. Hagar was pregnant because Sarai had insisted her roihusband sleep with her. Indeed, this type of arrangement for barren women was common in the ancient world. The plan was devised to fulfill a promise from God that a great nation would come from Abram. Since Sarai was childless and beyond childbearing years, she took matters into her own hands with an acceptable custom rather than waiting to see how God intended to fulfill that promise.

Once Hagar was pregnant, jealously and apparent disgust reared their heads inside of Sarai. She indicates that Hagar now despised her.  Sarai’s conclusion could have been drawn from truth or from her own imagination. Perhaps Hagar felt uneasy about the pregnancy or perhaps she felt prideful. Whatever the emotion behind both women, the tension was enough that Hagar fled to the desert.

God revealed Himself to Hagar, stating that he saw her and that He was aware of her life and circumstances. He comforts Hagar and then instructs her to return to Sarai, promising to increase her descendants too.  Here Hagar is called upon to trust and obey despite her feelings. In Chapter 16, we see Hagar and her son Ishmael in a similar situation. God once again reveals Himself to her, and Hagar’s eyes are opened to the work of God in her life. She finally understands what God has been saying about His plan for her.

I can recall more than once in life when my achievements were overlooked, yet others got noted for the same accomplishments. More than once, I sat among the crowd applauding a person being recognized and had to hold back tears.  I can also recall when I felt so intimidated by someone that I did not stand up for myself and ended up taking a punishment for something I didn’t do.

It’s natural to have hurt feelings as a human. That is when we must call upon the God who sees us and realize we are not unnoticed or unimportant.  Whether overlooked, misunderstood, lonely, or confused, know that God sees you. The New Testament tells us that He knows the number of hairs on our heads. This is more than attention to detail. This is intimate  awareness by God.

earth2I enjoy seeing pictures of the earth from space. I am always struck by how tiny I am in the scheme of God’s wonderful universe. Yet—He sees me. In fact, He sent His Son to this Earth to be sacrificed for my sins so that I could one day receive forgiveness.


Has there been a time in your life when El Roi comforted you?



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