“I’m glad you’re the one reading this,” said the patient husband.
He was referring to the tongue-twisting list of names in I Chronicles 5 with all their adjacent vowels and unexpected consonant blends.
I could see his point, but, to be honest, I was enjoying the effort of decoding the names and then saying them, one by one, out loud to the air inside our min-van.
As we waded through the names in I Chronicles, I couldn’t ignore the repeated evidence that God keeps records of the names of His people. When we look at an old year book or at the many pictures that scroll their way through our social media minutes, it’s human nature to look for the faces and names of those we recognize and love. God needs no news feed to keep track of His beloved, and every face, every name has significance to Him. This truth is prevalent throughout the Old Testament: remember Moses begging God to wipe his own name out of the book rather than giving up on his people? And the lists go on throughout the books of history right into Nehemiah and the years of exile.
In the New Testament, Jesus told The Seventy (when they returned from their short-term missions trip), “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” His message to them was that God’s cherishing and recording of their name is more reason for them to rejoice than their ability to “trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy,” (Luke 10:17-20).
Just as God sees all time at once, exists outside of time, and yet is available to you in your moment, so He also sees all of humanity at once — and yet He cherishes uniqueness. He knows you by name.
They march across the pages.
Trailing their fathers,
Embedded in community,
Their names inscribe the ages.
There are no nameless —
There are no faceless
Followers of God Most High.
Although we read them
With hearts too numb to marvel
At the grace that’s between the lines;
For these are the people promised to Abraham,
The ones for whom God split the sea,
Who sold themselves cheaply
And squandered their chosen-ness —
Just like me.
Returned from a mission
With tales of demons falling.
Sharing their conquests,
‘Til Jesus gave perspective:
“Your joy is not your calling,
“But you have names
And you have faces
You’re followers of God Most High.
And so your names,
‘Enrolled among the righteous,’
Are written in My Book of Life.”
For they are the people promised to Abraham,
Outnumbering the stars they can see.
When the Lamb’s Book is opened
They’ll hold their breaths, listening.
On their faces, they’ll be listening —
Just like me.
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