June 3rd found us attending a different church. To make a long story short, we have found it necessary to close the doors of our little church that my husband was the pastor of. This is heartbreaking, to be sure, and a hard providence. But God is still God and He works good things in the hard providences of life. So, this last Sunday morning we were sitting in the third row of another little church. We would normally sit farther back but as we were running a bit late there was no room in the back. One of the reasons that we chose to go to this church was that our son was playing in the worship band. Our oldest daughter and her family also came so we weren't totally unfamiliar to everyone. People were friendly and at one point there was a time to turn around and greet those around you. This we did, sharing names and places. As I turned back around to sit down my thought was: "What was that person's name?" My mind was totally blank. Not only could I not remember the lovely woman sitting behind me but I couldn't remember the name of the man sitting to the right of me. Argh! This has been a problem for me for years. I have tried numerous tricks to remember people's names. Sometimes it has worked but then you have to remember the tricks in order to remember the names. I guess that this is something that I'll have to keep working on.
I was reading in Romans 16 the other day where Paul gives personal greetings to many in the church. This was heartwarming for me as from there my mind wandered to many in the church (not only those who attended our church but to other churches as well) who have served the church in particular capacities and have loved the church and its people. I could also go down a list of names commending them for their gift to the Body of Christ and how they sacrificially gave themselves to the work of the Gospel. These people and names I do remember as I go over what they have done in the name of Christ. There is a familial relationship that is bonded by the fellowship of Jesus and not easily broken by circumstances. From there the concentric circles expand like the life lines on the inside of a tree. So are the people whom I hardly get to see but are, nevertheless, remembered because of past history and the ties that binds. I am so very grateful for all of you. Many are the relationships that have been sweet and encouraging. There is not enough thanks to be given for what I/we have received from you.
As I was thinking and reading how Paul remembered certain people I started thinking about all those 'begats' in the Chronicles of the Old Testament. It has been said that all these names are important and I believe it. Seriously though, I can't be the only one who is tried while reading them and cheats by skimming over them. But there they are ~ hundreds of names right there in God's Holy Word (conviction is present as I write these words!). God's Word is recording people's names. He knows them and makes others know them even down through history. Why would He do that if it wasn't important and for some benefit. To be known by God and called by name is a bit of heaven here on this earth. Every facet of the chosen, our joys and sorrows, are seen by the everlasting eye of God. All those hairs that have fallen from my head were numbered (Matt. 10:30) and the many tears that have been shed over a church closure have been stored up in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). He sees us ~ what a marvel! This brings such comfort to a weary soul and therefore produces a joy that cannot match words. It is no wonder that we can sing this hymn:
"When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, It is well with my soul."
Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief all have to ask this question: Does God know me? Has He called me by my name? Do I belong to Him? If the answer is "no" then there is need to fear. But if the answer is "yes" then all is well. There is reason to be glad for everything that is needed has been given to us in Christ. There needn't be fear for the future when we remember that Christ goes before us. So, I can press on like the apostle Paul knowing that Christ has made me His own (Phil. 3:12a).
*Update ~ Today is Thursday and usually the day that the chemo hits me. So I'm a bit weak but not uncomfortable. I keep having to say, "huh?" to those who talk to me as I have some ringing in the ears and not hearing so well. Which, sad to say was a problem for me anyway but for now I'm blaming it on the chemo, okay? I want to keep thanking so many who have let me know that they are praying for me/us. Even if I don't respond to your notes I so appreciate you and your kindness (and I do remember your name).