“Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Hebrews 11:16).
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, Durant just cannot place Sherman. He knows he’s supposed to know him, but cannot get beyond that.
Know the feeling? I sure do.
Bob Sherman said Will 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 Sherman understands the problem. The older we get, the more prone we are to forgetfulness.
Do you have a similar story? Here is one of mine.
Normally, 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, to my complete surprise 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 we had not seen each other in 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.
I can still recall the pain of trying to maintain the deceit of pretending to know someone I don’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).
As our Lord said, “I am the good Shepherd and I know my sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10:14).
He adds, “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father and I lay down My life for the sheep….” (10:15).
Jesus said at Judgement, some will stand before Him declaring their righteousness and showing 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 laughter.) I will tell of something that happened in 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 and we sat in my office for an hour or more, chatting, 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 this week 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.