Tuesday, January 9, 2018

When the God of the Universe Knows Our Name

The settings section of my phone lists my name. It's correctly spelled every single time. Seri, however, has a little trouble with the pronunciation. Her "Leanna" often sounds nothing like my name. 

That's been a lifelong problem for me. When I was a girl, the usual combination of "Lee" and "Ann" was Leanne, not Leanna. Sometimes, Leanne was spelled "Leigh Ann." My name was uncommon.

The efforts at pronunciation were even worse than the spelling difficulties. I've been called Leanner, Leeanne, Louanne, and Leander, among others. Because of the confusion surrounding my name, it's precious to me when someone gets it right the first time. It's also caused me to take note of others' names and try to get them right.

Yesterday, I was speaking with a group of teenaged students. They aren't usually the most welcoming group, and not often as responsive as I'd like, but I made an effort to learn everyone's name. For once, their names "stuck" in my head.

When I began to speak, I called the students by name and invited them in to the conversation. It caught them off guard, and they participated in a way they never had before. Not all their stoniness crumbled, but a little of it did.

Some of the names were non-traditional and multi-syllabic. They weren't easy names, but they were no less important to the students. Last evening, I pondered our time together. I'm convinced using their given name correctly made a difference. 

This morning, I'm reminded that God knows our names. He never misspells them nor mispronounces them. He gets them right every single time. 

When the Good Shepherd calls a sheep, it's generally grazing, satisfying it's hunger. A sheep is trained to stop nibbling, look up, and follow. It's life and safety depend upon the promptness of its response. 

The difficulty in following Jesus is not whether He knows or uses our name. It's not even whether or not we hear Him call us. He calls. We hear. We know we're supposed to obey. The difficulty comes when He requires us to walk away from our grazing and follow Him. Will we stop our efforts to satisfy our own hunger and allow Him to lead us to greener pastures? To lusher grazing? To still water?

He calls us by name. Our job is to respond, and to do it instantly. 

Today, let's listen for the Master's voice and choose to turn from seeking our own satisfaction and follow Him. 

"To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." John 10:3 esv
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Finding Good in the Midst of the Hard

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