“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
What a genius introduction to a flawed character. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader bluntly reveals the character of Eustace Scrubb before he even has a chance to defend himself.
Names define who we are. C.S. Lewis knew it. We know it. And the Creator of names definitely knows it. From the very beginning, God gave mankind identifiers. He called the first man, Adam, revealing his nature. Adam=red earth. Eve=life. God can name mankind because He knows them. He recognizes our names, our nature, better than anyone else ever will.
In Bible times, names were given with an undeniable prophetic understanding.
One of the least likely people in Israel is called out of hiding from the Midianites. He agrees to fight for God’s people and lives up to his name.
Joshua=Yahweh is Salvation
The Israelites would experience God’s Salvation as Joshua fearlessly led them into the Promised Land.
A truly loyal friend to her mother-in-law Naomi. She was a faithful companion who would not leave family behind.
And when a name didn’t fit one’s nature, God changed it.
Abram’s name was changed to Abraham (Father of Many) after he was promised to be the father of a great nation.
Jacob’s name was changed to Israel(God Contended) after he wrestled with God.
Simon’s name was changed to Peter (Rock) after he made his confession that Jesus was Lord.
There is power in a name.
So what happens when our names are tainted by our families, our past mistakes, or the perceptions of others? Can people like Eustace Scrubb ever change? Is there a way to shift the character that is associated to the name? C.S. Lewis gives us hope.
As we read more of Eustace Clarence Scrubb, there is a change that takes place. It happens after he has a life-altering encounter with Aslan the Lion. At one point in the story, Eustace is turned into a hideous dragon due to his own selfishness. Aslan finally redeems Eustace by painfully clawing him to freedom. There is no name change. Eustace is still Eustace… yet… Eustace has changed.
For some of us parents, there is a fear that our old names will be what stick with our families from generation to generation. Like Eustace, we have changed but our names have not. How do we move past a name that holds so much hurt, so much shame?
For others, our name has been a blessing. We are thankful for the name we have been given, and we name our children with the hope that they too will rise up to the meaning of their name. But what happens when they fail? No name completely matches our true nature. We give names with a limited understanding of who our children will become.
In either situation, let the words of Jesus comfort your soul.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
Is your name a burden to you? Or does your name match who God is shaping you to be? Either way, know that when change happens in your life, when your loyalty shifts to the one true King, when transformation occurs because of the cross, you will receive a new name.
Eustace Clarence Scrubb’s story is our story. We all have names with baggage attached to them. But we are known by God. He promises to give us a new name, our true name – A name that reveals who we were always created to be. Take heart in this truth as you raise your kids. Call your children by the names they have been given as you continually point them to Jesus. And as you lean in at night and whisper, “you are my child,” know that one day Jesus will do the same.