Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Hebrews 11:16).
What do you do when you know you should recognize a person, but you can’t find their name in your head? My answer: Admit it, and save yourself some stress.
Not everyone agrees, however.
Songwriter Robert Sherman was attending the birthday party for Will Durant, the 85-year-old who with his wife Ariel had recently produced the enormous set of volumes on The History of Civilization. It was a feat of incredible magnitude for which they had won all kinds of awards.
One month earlier, Sherman had spent several hours with Dr. Durant during which they discussed literature and film. But now, in the crowded reception, as they greet one another, Durant just cannot place Sherman. He knows he’s supposed to know him but cannot get beyond that.
Bob Sherman said Dr. Durant would stare, smile, and try to make the connection. You could almost see the wheels turning in his head.
Finally, Durant said, “It’s good of you to come. It’s been a long time since I have seen you. Too long.”
Sherman, relating this story in Moose: Chapters from my Life, called Durant’s words “an all purpose statement.”
And, he says, Sherman understands the problem. The older we get, the more prone we are to forgetfulness.
In his retirement years, news anchor Walter Cronkite loved to visit with friends in his boat off Martha’s Vineyard. Now, he was hard of hearing but rarely admitted it. When Cronkite, his wife, and friends stopped at a lakeside store, they went inside. Some stranger greeted him and asked him a question. He figured it was “do you know this person or that?” So, Cronkite answered, “We get together once in a while, but I’ve not seen him lately.” Later, in the boat, his wife said, “Do you know what that man asked you?” “No, not really.” She: “He asked if you know the Lord Jesus as your Savior?”
Do you have a similar story? Here is one of mine.
Normally, in Greenville, Mississippi, where we were living, I used the drive-through banking. But on this particular day for some reason I had gone inside. Approaching the teller, I could not help noticing her unusual name: Majie. When I asked about it, she laughed, “In high school, some of the boys called me Mangie.” We laughed, and I forgot all about it.
Then, surprisingly, just a week later I had business back inside that bank. And I chose Majie as my teller.
Wanting to show her what a good memory I had, I said, “Good morning, Mangie.”
She stared at me a long moment, then her eyes widened and she broke into a big grin.
“Oh! How long it’s been since I’ve seen you!”
I was embarrassed to admit that it had been all of one week.
When we do not know someone, we are left with two choices: admit it or fake it.
Over the years after several instances of faking it, I eventually learned it’s much less painful simply to say upfront, “Please remind me.” Usually, the person is good with that. (And these days–I’m in my eighties–I have to do that a lot.)
I can still recall the pain of trying to maintain the deceit of pretending to know someone I didn’t.
Here’s a great promise from Scripture: “The solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).
I like that: The Lord knows those who are His.
I betcha He never forgets my name either.
As our Lord said, “I am the good Shepherd and I know my sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10:14).
He added, “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father and I lay down My life for the sheep….” (10:15).
At Judgement, Jesus said, some will stand before Him declaring their righteousness and claiming fake credentials. To them, He will say, “Depart from me; I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Sometimes I will preface a story with something like “I hate name-droppers, as I once said to Billy Graham!” (I pause for that to sink in, and maybe get a laugh or two) I might tell of something from one of several visits I made with Dr. Billy and Mrs. Ruth Bell Graham during the 1980s when I pastored in Charlotte, NC. But under no circumstances do I allow anyone to believe that “Billy Graham knew me.” We met, we sat in a hospital waiting room a couple of times and we sat in my office for an hour or more, chatting, while preparing for a funeral of one of his associate evangelists. But how many people did Billy Graham meet in his long lifetime? I knew him; but he did not know me. And that’s fine; I’m just making a point.
The people presenting the fake credentials to the Lord Jesus in Matthew 7 were claiming intimate knowledge. “We know you. We’ve worked miracles in Thy name. We have cast out demons in Your name.” But it was a one-sided business.
We remember something found at the end of John chapter two and nowhere else.
Now, when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25) It was all one-sided.
A friend texted to say that someone tried to scam him using my name. The person had my photo with their message and claimed to be onto a good way the friend could make some money. So, he gave the messenger a little test. “Do you still live in Atlanta after moving there from Texas?” When the scammer said he did, my friend knew it was not me.
Scamming goes on all the time when people can hide behind the internet. But how wonderful it is to know the Lord personally and know that we know Him.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God!” (I John 3:1). Indeed.