During the launch of Namesake I’ll be sharing several excerpts from the study here at the Reverend Mother blog. Namesake is filled with stories from the Bible where people’s names change as their lives change. Those Biblical stories are punctuated by stories from today of real people of faith and their names. This is an excerpt from the very first story in the study, the story of Mike Drummond. Mike passed away last August soon after I interviewed him about his unique story of having not one but two namesakes. I’m honored to have known this great man.
Every Name Tells A Story: Little Mike
A name can function as a password, a key that allows you access to its owner. When I visit people in the hospital, that key can unlock doors or leave me standing out in the cold.
When I walk into a hospital, the first person I meet is usually the receptionist at the information desk. My response to the question “Can I help you?” is generally to offer a name. “I’m here to visit Mike Drummond,” I said on a recent hospital visit. The woman paused, glanced at her computer screen, and smiled at me: “I’m sorry, we don’t have a patient here by that name.”
I’m used to this game. Because of privacy laws, hospitals won’t give access to the room number of a patient unless the visitor knows the exact legal name entered in the records. So I tried again. “OK, how about Michael Drummond?” Same pause, back to the computer, and then another smiling response: “There’s no one admitted in this hospital by that name.” By this time I was beginning to get frustrated, but a few well-placed cell phone inquiries to mutual friends brought me back to the desk with my password ready: “Thomas Drummond!” I said triumphantly. Success! This time I was rewarded with a room number and directions to the elevators.
Mike lay in his hospital bed looking a bit weak but cheerful. Even cancer couldn’t put a damper on his hearty personality. After asking about how he was feeling and when he might get to go home, I got to the question stirring my curiosity: “Mike, how is it that I’ve known you all this time and had no idea your name is really Thomas?” The story he shared was worth the trip and the delay in the lobby.
Thomas Philip Drummond Jr. was the first son born to a wonderful mother and father. His dad, Tom, was proud to share his name with his little boy. The family lived in Illinois when he arrived but soon packed up and moved back home to be close to his mother’s family. There was one little wrinkle.
Little Thomas Jr.’s aunts protested because this first-born grandson wasn’t named after their father, his grandfather on his mother’s side. Thomas Jr.’s parents insisted he keep the name he had received on his birth certificate, but the aunts would hear none of it. They began calling him after his grandfather anyway—Francis Marion Jennings, who went by Mike because he was too burly a guy to go by either Francis or Marion.
Little Thomas Jr.’s parents tried to stick to their guns but were overpowered as the whole family insisted on calling him Little Mike. Eventually even his parents gave in, and Little Mike it was. Mike claims that for the first three years of his life he thought his first name was all one word: Littlemike. It was a long time before he discovered his given name wasn’t Mike at all.
Mike is honored to share the names of his father and grandfather. They were both honorable men, he says—capable, loving, strong, and family-oriented. He knows he couldn’t go wrong being named after two wonderful men. He’s proud to be their namesake.
A namesake is usually someone given the name of a predecessor in hopes that he or she will grow up and emulate that person in some way. Parents hope their little girl or boy will adopt his or her namesake’s traits as the child is called by that name. Little Mike eventually dropped the “Little” and became just Mike. He hopes that he carries that name in a way that would make his grandfather proud. He also has great hopes and dreams for his own son and namesake, Thomas Philip Drummond III, who goes by Phil.
The word Christian bears, at its heart, the name of Christ. When that name is bestowed on us, God hopes and dreams that we will grow to favor His Son, to be like Him in all that we are and do. Becoming Jesus’ namesake is a complicated, lifelong process of transformation that begins with the simple act of trusting Him.
The stories in Namesake are of people in the Bible who learned that the God they encountered had such big dreams for them that their entire lives were about to change, including their names. Their identities were so altered by God that their old names simply didn’t fit the persons they were becoming. Their new names became a key to a new life, a password of sorts, given by a God who knew them even better than they knew themselves. As we explore their stories, we will begin our own journey of change. Who are we? Who is God calling us to become? The answers are in the hands of the One who hopes to become our namesake, who is making us over to be more like Him.
Do you know someone who has a Namesake? Does your name tell a story? Tell us about it here.
Follow the journey of Namesake at www.Facebook.com/jessicalagrone.