In my children’s room is a small ledge. On it, I placed a few small items including a set of wax candles in the shape of rabbits, my favorite animal. Once I set up my office, I moved my rabbits to the shelves of my bookcase. One day, having ignored the “do not go into Mommy’s office space” rule (which unfortunately is separated from their play area by said bookcases), my daughter decides she wants to play with one of the rabbits. She drops it on the hardwood floor and the ears break off.
Following the “we always tell Mommy the truth” rule, she comes into the kitchen to tell me that she accidentally dropped “her” rabbit and broke off his ears. Angry, because she was in forbidden space AND she maimed my rabbit, I launch into to the “respect for other people’s property” lecture and reiteration of the office space rule. She looks at me perplexed.
“But that’s my rabbit.”
I correct her: “No, it is MY rabbit. I just let you keep it in your room until I had a place for it.” Check.
“It’s YOUR rabbit?” she says incredulously. Check.
“Yes, it is MY rabbit, which is why it is on MY bookcase,” I say authoritatively. Check.
“So it’s ‘your rabbit’?” she says giving me that universal look of black disbelief (one eyebrow almost perceptively raised, mouth slightly pursed as if on the verge of sucking her teeth with one corner ever so subtly raised). Check.
“Yes, it is MY rabbit.” Outwardly ignoring her expression but inwardly noting and congratulating her accomplishing this rite of passage. Check.
“Then what’s his name?” Checkmate.
And then the rabbit started to school me, too. He took Exodus 3: 14-15 as his text: But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, “What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.’ “
Critical to this story is the name of God. As Old Testament scholar, Bernhard Anderson, attests a name is significant in this culture because: (1) the name not only identifies a person but is believed to contain vital force and power, (2) the name speaks to the nature of the person, and (3) the name is necessary for relationship especially personal and spiritual. That “broke eared” rabbit looked at me and said along with the 5 year old Ancient Near Eastern scholar I am apparently raising, “If you don’t know my name, how do you know me or have a relationship with me or have the authority to claim me as your own?” And that rabbit made me think: Doesn’t God write our names on the palms of his hands (Isa. 49:16)? Didn’t God give us a name by which all can be saved (Acts 4:12?); a name we can call on (2:21)? a name that causes tongues to confess and knees to bend (Phil. 2:11)? a name full of power and authority? a name that brings us into right relationship with God? A name….
I might not have known the name of that rabbit. But every time I see those “broke ears,” I surely remember the name of JESUS!