Yesterday, as we were in the bustle of getting ready for church, Christian slid into my room and asked me a question. “Hey, did you forget my middle name?”
I looked at him and said, “How could I forget? I’m the one who gave it to you!” He looked at me expectantly, so I said, “Your middle name is Alexander!” and he ran back out into the hallway, satisfied. I finished brushing my hair, wondering where in the world his question had come from. How could he think, even for a moment, that I would not know his name? I know which foods he doesn’t like, his favorite colors, which Lego sets are on his wish-list. I saw his first steps and his first day of school, the spelling words he had last week, and I know his dreams for grown-up life. I know him – and even though we’ve had to discover many of his characteristics since he was born, his name was something we could hand-pick for him. Before his birth, Neil and I had discussion after discussion and looked at list after list to come up with his name. Although what his particular name stands for in this world will be up to him and to his actions, we wanted to give him names with meanings that are honorable and good – names that he can be proud to wear. So we chose Christian Alexander – follower of Christ, defender and helper of men. So, to me, it’s unthinkable that I would forget his name. But, to him, it wasn’t so far-fetched. He needed the reassurance. I don’t know why, exactly, but it seemed like he needed the reminder – he is known. Through and through, middle name and all, he is named and valued, loved and never forgotten. Not because of anything he has done, but simply because he is mine.
“You are Simon son of John,” Jesus says to Andrew’s brother when they come face to face for the first time in John 1:42. “You will be called Cephas (which is Peter).”
“Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit,” Jesus says to Nathaniel a few verses later. “How do you know me?” Nathaniel asks, baffled at this man who seems to understand him before they’ve even been properly introduced. “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you,” Jesus replies. Yes, Jesus knew them. Before they spoke a word, He knew them. And it wasn’t just their names that He knew – He knew where they had been, what they were thinking, where they would soon go. He knew more than their surface characteristics – He knew their hearts.
I was re-reading Peter and Nathaniel’s first meetings with Jesus while Christian’s sudden question was still on my mind. And it occurred to me that I’ve wondered this same thing- in the routine, in the hopes, in the prayers, in the random moments of this life – does He still know my name? Does He remember me? I was quick to reassure Christian that he could not be forgotten, not by me. It would be near to impossible for this body that cradled him until his birth and this heart that has cradled him for these ten years to forget him. But we know that the voices in this world whisper these things to us – that we are disposable, forgettable, not all that important. People can – and do – leave us. In Isaiah, God acknowledges the broken and fragile state of this world, in which even a mother can forget her baby and have no compassion on her child. So I will continue to tell him these things in a world that will try to convince him otherwise– you are known. You are loved.
Have you ever felt this way? Do you ever wonder if He knows your name? Do you wonder if He still sees you? Do you wonder if He knows the real you, the inside you, that nobody else sees? Are you asking – in the middle of your loneliness, your struggle, your busy routines – have You forgotten me?
I can only imagine the Father reaching out to you and saying – How could I forget you? I’m the One who made you! Yes, His hands formed you…before your first breath in this world, He was there.
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb…Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”-Psalm 139:13
Even now, He knows everything about you. He knows what brings you joy. He knows the desires of your heart. He knows where you have been and where you are going. He sees right through the surface to your heart that is precious to Him, to your soul that matters to Him.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon Me. –Psalm 139:1-5
It is impossible for this God, for this Savior, whose hands have been laid upon our lives, to forget you. Remember that thought from Isaiah, that a mother could turn away from her own child? God says to us – Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are ever before Me. –Isaiah 49:15-16
Jesus gave His life because He couldn’t forget us, couldn’t let us go. His mercy and grace brought us back to His heart and that is where His promises tell us we can remain – abiding in Him. When we begin to really take this in – the forever-love our Father has for us – we can live in the freedom of who He has created us to be instead of fear of who we are or who we’re not. We can live in hope, because we will never be forsaken and we will never be left behind. Our future is in the hands of One who loves us fully.
When we do feel a little unsure, when we are afraid, when we are feeling out in the cold – I hope we will be like my Christian, who ran right in to ask me his questions! Because of Jesus, we can run right to the throne of grace and ask our Father what His thoughts are toward us…don’t be afraid to be honest with the One who already knows how you feel. Listen for His voice – look into His Word that He has given to us – and you will hear Him say, over and over again – “My unfailing love for you will not be shaken.” (Isaiah 54:10) You will hear Him say “I know the plans I have for you…plans for good, plans for a hope and a future.” (from Jer. 29:11) You will hear Him say “Do not be afraid.”
Through and through, hairs on your head-tears you cry-middle name and all, you are never forgotten. Not because of anything you’ve done, but simply because you belong to Him. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His. –Psalm 100:3
May we rest and rejoice in His love tonight.