Years ago I read about a couple in England who gave birth to a girl and named her Tracy. They also gave her 138 other names. For the sake of brevity I won’t list them as a newspaper reporter did. Some included Carol, Beth, Amy, and Jean. Others were more unusual: Zsa-Zsa and Queenie. (I’ve only known two Queenies—one was a horse and the other was a dog.)
Did the girl’s parents do this for publicity or to set a record? Or did they run amok in the baby name book? The father said, “We just wanted to give her something for when she grows up.”
They certainly did give little Tracy…something. Think of the future for a child with 139 names. When she is six, she won’t know her full name. When everyone in her fourth grade class has finished the test, she will still be printing her name in the top right hand corner—and all over the page. She will be the only one in high school who can’t write her name without a cheat-sheet. As an adult, signing her full name to a legal document will cause writer’s cramp.
These parents have also added fuel to the sibling rivalry fire. Their three other children had three names each. I wonder how many times the parents heard this whine: “Why did she get 139 names and I only got three?”
The idea of saddling a little baby with a multitude of names is ludicrous. None of us need more than a few names to be easily identified. But while people don’t need a lot of names, God does. I don’t know if anyone has counted the names of God, but there are many.
God, by His very nature, is incomprehensible. Knowing some of His many names can help us to know Him better. His most common names are those we call Him by, such as Lord, God, or Savior. In the Old Testament some of the names of God described things He did, such as provide, heal, shepherd us, or give peace. In the New Testament He is known by many names, including the Son of God, the Messiah, and the King of Kings.
One of my favorites of His names is also one of the most inscrutable: the “Alpha and Omega” which is usually translated “the Beginning and the End.” Because Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet, the most simplistic translation is that He is everything (good). We would say, using the English alphabet, that He is “everything from A to Z.” Another way of looking at the meaning of Alpha and Omega is that He is more than can be expressed using every letter of any language’s alphabet. He is indescribable.
If we just consider the English translation “the Beginning and the End,” there is another mystery involved: a kind of oxymoron. Jesus who is “the image of the invisible God” (see John 1:1 and Colossians 1:15-20) is the Beginning who had no beginning and the End who will never have an end. That is the very definition of “eternal.” He was with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, before anything was created and He will be with His redeemed creation throughout the eternal ages to come.
Obviously, this name “Alpha and Omega” is pretty complicated. But I take comfort in a simpler personal explanation of Jesus as the Beginning and the End: Jesus was the Beginning of my faith journey (Phil. 1:6) when I put my faith in Him as my Savior. Because of that, He is my End. One day I will end my life walking with Him on earth—only to begin it eternally again with Him in heaven—in a world without end.
Author and editor Vicki Huffman writes on issues secular and sacred, diverse and divine, fictional and faith-full. She is the author of two secular-based Christian non-fiction books and one Christian-based fiction book which are available in different forms through the author (email Mentoring Moments) or amazon.com. To read the first chapter of her novel A Secret Hope at no cost, follow here.