Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's In a Name?

Are you good with remembering people’s names?  I’m not very good at it myself, but I try real hard.  Still sometimes I get it wrong.  My sister, Robbie Lee is the world’s worst with names.  You can tell her your name about a hundred times and she would still call you something different afterward.  The problem is she likes to use people’s names when she’s talking to them because she feels it makes the conversation more personal, but she almost always uses the wrong name.  This had lead to many embarrassing moments.  When people correct her she usually just says, “Whatever,” and just keeps on talking.  
Once a woman in our church asked us to have prayer with her as Sunday services were ending.  She was having some personal health issues and we were part of the ministry team that day.  I had been introduced to her earlier and remembered her name was Eunice.  However, as we bowed our heads and started praying out loud with her, Robbie Lee began, “Lord, we ask you to reach out and touch our friend Mildred here.  Mildred has some health issues that we know you can heal.”  I opened my eyes and noticed that Eunice was looking a bit confused, but Robbie Lee just kept on praying.  “Lord, heal Mildred from top to bottom.  Bless Mildred Lord and keep Mildred in your care.”  
This went on for a while until I finally interrupted Robbie Lee.  “Excuse me, Robbie, but her name is not Mildred.”  Robbie Lee gave me a blank stare.  “It’s not?” she asked, like she was shocked that her name could be something other than Mildred.  “My name is Eunice,” the woman replied.  “Oh,” said Robbie Lee.  She continued to pray, “Whatever, Lord you know who this is.  Just heal her I pray.”  I just smiled a big smile at Eunice and she walked away like she wasn’t so sure God was going to get it right.  
Another time I was talking with a woman at Moseberth’s Restaurant in Portsmouth, VA.  Robbie Lee was in the restroom and this woman walked up and introduced herself to me.  “Hello, my name is Linda and I’m a friend of Robbie’s,” she said, reaching out her hand to me. I saw you come into the restaurant with Robbie.”  We chatted for a while and everything was fine until Robbie Lee returned from the restroom.  “Oh, hello!” Robbie Lee said, giving her a hug.  Then Robbie looked at me and said, “Polly, let me introduce you to my friend, Martha.”  I slowly shook my head, knowing that her name was Linda.  “No, my name is not Martha,” she said with a surprised look.  “My name is Linda.”  Robbie Lee always ends up with a blank stare on her face.  “She already introduced herself to me,” I whispered to Robbie Lee.  “Oh,” said Robbie Lee.  “Whatever, it’s still good to see you.”  I just stood there with a red face as Robbie muddled her way through.  
I’ve told Robbie Lee she shouldn’t use people’s names so often if she’s not sure about them.  Yet, she falls into the wrong-name trap over and over again.  It never stops her.  She just keeps using names, hoping she’ll get it right.  She renames people as she goes.  Walking into church she smiles and yells, “Hello, Bob.  How are you?”  “That’s John,” I’ll whisper as we go by.  Robbie Lee just keeps on going.  “Hey, Betty, it’s been a long time,” Robbie Lee says, smiling and hugging along the way.  “Nope, wrong again.  Her name is Charlotte,” I correct.  “Whatever,” says Robbie Lee. 

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t have problems remembering your name?  Isaiah 49:16 says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”  In Matthew 10:30 Jesus says, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”  We are that important to God.  Psalm 139:13 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  You can’t get any more personal than that.  When others forget your name or overlook you, don’t let it get you down.  God in heaven is staring at your name in the palm of His hand and He will never forget your name.  
P.S.  If you see Robbie Lee, just throw up your hand and say, “Hello Margaret, nice to see you.”  She’ll probably just smile back and say, “Whatever.”      

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