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I got a message that a long-ago church member had died a month previously. After a protracted battle with cancer, he finally gave out. I hadn’t seen him for six years, and I had talked with him perhaps three years earlier. His name and phone number were still on my cell phone contact list, just as I had once called it.
It seemed so strange to have a contact number and an email address for someone who was no longer on earth.
If I called his number, who would answer? So I called: Three screechy tones, then, “We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service. If you feel you have reached this recording in error, please check the area code and the number and try your call again.” Beep, beep, beep, beep . . .
I wondered what it would be like if the phone company had a message like, “We’re sorry. The person at this number has left the rat race on earth and entered eternity. We hope you can make contact when you go there too.” I doubt I’ll ever hear that.
Anyone with a cell phone has added and deleted names and numbers from the contact list. But when I went to do it this time, I stopped and could only stare at the name. Erasing his name seemed like something only God should do.
When I finally erased it, I did so with reverence — and sadness that a life had slipped away in obscurity. Others who had known him well hadn’t heard about his death either.
But God knew him — and I’m sure welcomed him as he checked in to heaven. No matter how obscure we are, whether in life or in death, the important thing is being known by God.
Yet the thought of obscurity can frighten people. It drives some to pursue all manner of achievements and efforts to make monuments to themselves to prove they are significant or worth remembering.
Despite all that, what if God doesn’t know us?
One of the scariest passages in the Bible is. Jesus hits us with,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (NIV)
Yikes! We could exercise spiritual power and even be famous — as in being known by lots of people. But only one opinion matters. He knows my name and has every hair on my head counted. He has prepared a place for me in heaven. So, even if my days are short and forgotten, I will not stress. I’ll spend eternity with the One who knows me:
"The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, ..."(NIV)
I’m not going to worry about my obscure life. God knows me, and that’s enough. Does God know you – know you well?
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."(NIV)
“Lord, thank you for knowing me. Loving me. Redeeming me. And holding me in your hand. Whatever I may gain or accomplish on earth is secondary. And when the time comes for my contact on earth to be erased, I’ll be ready."
Copyright © Peter Lundell, used with permission.
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