Monday, May 7, 2012

He Knows My Name...

"Hello, I'm Joshua.  What is your name?"  I've uttered this phrase thousands upon thousands of times in my life.  Would I be silly to ask if you think I personally know thousands upon thousands of people?  I doubt many would assume this.  If polled most of us could, at best, come up with a few hundred by name.  NO - don't cheat w/ your Facebook friends list!  Most of those people were "wonder what ever happened to..." discoveries anyway.  I'm talking about seriously using your mental faculties and recalling by name, by face, individuals that your life has crossed paths with.

For me, it's much worse.  I can see a person for weeks on end, having spoken with them often, been introduced from the outset and still forget their name.  I may in time, even know some humorous story about their children or their dog's name, or what kind of car they drive, but their name - blank.  This is why I don't volunteer for the greeter's ministry at church.  God has not gifted me in this arena.  My wife often jokes with me that if I ever got a job as a professor she would have to call my secretary to make sure I had my papers, lunch, or even shirt on some days. 

Names, for me, unfortunately are not something my mind eagerly latches onto unless I have regular and frequent contact with an individual.  My mind is filled with calculus from college, software applications from work, task lists from home, dreams and aspirations, personal spiritual goals, scriptures, teachings from noted speakers, and more useless trivia than the board games can query.  But infrequently used names somehow get the same data processing as my brides' grocery lists, the color scheme for our interior walls, the names of my daughters favorite cartoon characters, and my dog's vaccination dates.  With limited storage capacity my computer discards what it deems irrelevant for the moment and very often I lose a name or two in the purge. 

Worse for me is the embarrassing face to face moment when I am struggling to come up with the name of the individual I am talking to.  It is a name I should know but taunts my cognitive capacities.  And you've been there too, haven't you?  Why is this an embarrassment?  The simple answer is because forgetting a name is insulting because a name is valuable; it represents a person and referring to someone as "hey you" is, to a degree, de-humanizing and disengaging.  One of the most effective dehumanizing actions the Nazis of WWII undertook was to remove the name from the individual and to ascribe to them a number, tattooed on their body and sewn into their rags.  Identity was lost as being was replaced by system.

I am currently witnessing the value of a name in my own home.  My birth children were both born with my last name and really don't think much on the subject.  Yes, it's their name and I think they have some notion that because they share it with me, they have some entitlement to my income.  That's about it.  But to our son who we are just now completing adoption through the courts later this month, a name is everything.  Even in his young life, obtaining my name is the closing of a book, one that has many dark chapters.  To him, our last name represents a unification of spirit.  It represents stability, even with the chaotic and sometimes untidy nature of our lives.  It represents a loving family.  I have no idea where he picked this up from, but he can now regularly be heard saying "We're family after all!"  He is looking forward to our court date with the excitement and anticipation of a thousand Christmas mornings, because on that day - he gets his new name and to him, it represents peace and safety forever.

In the Bible, we are repeatedly invited to know our Father, to call upon his name.  Often this conjures images of Peter sinking in the waves and calling to Jesus in a panic as he endeavors to walk, as Jesus did, on waves of faith.  But we are all adopted sons and daughters of the Holy One who set galaxies in motion and spoke words that caused suns to burst into being.  Yet this tender Father literally takes the time to account the follicles on your head.  He desires relationship, deep heart to heart relationship.  He desires that we know Him, not just know OF Him.  He beckons us to know His Name, not the swear word, or the "help me" cry but the name that begins to touch His heart for the orphan and the destitute, His name that is unfailing and overcomes every weapon of the enemy that would seek to steal or destroy in your life and even end it, His name that will last even when the very temporal nature of this sphere passes and our own star dies, His name that is above every name.  His name is immutable and He desires that we would search out the depths, the heights, and the breadth of it - I guarantee, this is one name you won't forget.

"Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name, has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never.  He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation."
Psalm 91:14-16 (AMP)

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