‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ –Exodus 33:12b
I was listening to a podcast the other day, and Ted Danson was the guest being interviewed. He mentioned about his struggle to remember people’s names, and how he has to “load-in” the names of people he’s about to see.
My first thought was, “Wow! I have the same problem!”
My second thought was to laugh, realizing that the theme song for his most famous television show describes a place “where everybody knows your name.”
I desperately wish I could remember the name of every person in my church. I envy people who can do it. I would be so much more hospitable with second time visitors. I would greet everybody at the door by name. I would serve communion by name. Every phone call, every committee meeting, I’d be throwing out names, left and right.
I’m not sure why I have such a problem, but I do. Even with people I’ve known well for half a decade, sometimes the name just escapes me.
I looked on WebMD for some help. They listed 36 conditions that contribute to the loss of names. Naturally, I gravitated to the more severe ones: Stroke, Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow Disease.
Then I thought, maybe I just have a phobia about it. I looked it up: It’s called Athazagoraphobia, the fear of forgetting or being forgotten. Kind of funny that its name is something I will NEVER be able to remember!
Maybe I do have Althazha….Athazagrapi….nevermind. Whatever you call it, I suppose it describes me. Scared of forgetting people by name.
There are 35 times the NIV Bible uses the phrase “by name”. Many are census listings in Numbers or Chronicles, or conversations between God and Moses in Exodus, but in Isaiah 43, God says this to God’s people:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. –Isaiah 43:1b
God knows me. By name. Not just me. Every person who walks through the doors of the church. Every person who fears forgetting–or being forgotten. No need to fear.
That doesn’t allow me to abdicate my job to “load in” as many names as I can, but truth is, there are few places where “everybody knows your name”. It’s just not the Norm. (Get it?) Names are tricky sometimes, slippery. Some people are better at it than others.
But in God’s redeeming of our lives, we are known, by name. God claims us. God knows us, and wants us to know God, too.
God is the master of name-knowing. You and I are just apprentices. Disciples.
So as we continue the hard work of getting to know those around us, we can rejoice that God has long been on the job.
For that, we must be eternally grateful…
So say it with me…
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