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I remember visiting a large church in the inner city of Chicago to trouble-shoot their newly installed media-system.  I’d been instructed to get there as quickly as possible, so I did.  When I walked in, however, I found that a funeral was about to begin, and the projection system was in use.   Rather than excuse myself and re-schedule, I stayed in the control booth so I could observe.  Maybe the system would do again what they’d described on the phone.  I hoped not, because it would be distracting during the service.  But if it did, I wanted to be there to see it happen.

One of the speakers at that funeral, an 85-yr old preacher, didn’t waste any time starting in.

“Some of you maybe have said this week that Brother (I’ll call him) Thomas’ number came up this week.”
“That God called his number and he had to go.”

The congregation responded to his  delivery and soon the call and response was in full swing, the organist helping things along. We who attend white congregations have no idea how energizing this is — sometimes I wonder if we’d get it right, even if we tried. I remember smiling when I heard him say in poetic rhythm, the spirited Hammond organ backing him up:

“Brothers and sisters, God didn’t call no number this week.
Thomas don’t HAVE a number.
Thomas has a NAME!

God didn’t call out a number,
and Thomas look down at some ticket in his hand
and say “Well look-it there. That’s me.”

No, Sir,
He called Thomas by NAME!
And Thomas answered
“Here am I, Lord”

“Come on UP here, Thomas” God said.
Thomas always obeys the Lord, we know that.
So Thomas went.
We’ll miss him,  we ALL will.
But WHO
in his RIGHT mind
would want Thomas to come back
… From HEAVEN?!

I’d gone to a part of the city where there’s a wrought iron fence around the facility to keep things safe through the night. A watchman is on duty around the clock.  It’s a church that reaches out to its community, and tries to make a difference.   I went there to find what was wrong with their technology and fix it if I could.  Instead was reminded by an energetic old preacher:

God knows my name.

I may have to verify the last four digits of my social security number when I’m calling customer service,   I may have to use a lot of numbers filling out applications and forms, but God knows my name.  He knows when it’s best to call me Philip – even use my middle name.  And he knows when to whisper “Phil – rest a minute. It’s OK.”

Do you feel like a number sometimes?  I do.

You’re not a number.  Not with God.

You have a name – and God knows it.  When you pray, He knows who you are and He invites you in close if you’re His child, and listens.

He knows your name.   Don’t lose heart when it feels like you’re resume number 87 in a stack of 125. God knows your name, what you need, when and where.

Keep telling Him what you need.  He’s listening. He knows your name when you call.

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