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Christ Knows My Name

While strangers look at us, God sees within us. Dennis E. Hensley, PhD explores what being known to God really means. by Dennis E. Hensley, PhD

When my wife was first diagnosed with cancer, she underwent surgery to have her thyroid removed. The four-hour procedure seemed to go on forever. The minute I learned it was over, I headed toward the recovery room. As I entered the hallway, I noticed a nurse point to my wife’s room and heard her say to another nurse, “thyroid extract, 214.”

I stopped in my tracks, shocked that my lovely wife of 44 years was being reduced to the slang moniker of a medical procedure and a room number. I wanted to call out, “Hey, you! She has a name. It’s Rose! And she has far better labels. She is a wife, mom, grandma, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, friend, community volunteer, church greeter, book club member, licensed teacher, gardener, neighborhood association officer, actress, singer…

My list of identities for my wife was endless, honorable, respectful and definitive. I knew her intimately. I recognized and appreciated her value, her depth and wisdom. The very idea that some stranger would condense Rose’s endless attributes into two words and a room number was utterly unacceptable to me. She deserved far more homage than that.

I entered my wife’s private room. She was still unconscious. I began to pace. The day had

been filled with tension, anxiety and worry— and I’d swallowed too many cups of bad coffee. No wonder my nerves were on edge. But now it was over. The operation had gone well,

and Rose was starting to rest and recover.

I, too, needed to rest, recover and calm down. I needed to get my mind off what had angered me. I opened a dresser drawer in her room and found the Bible she had brought with her to the hospital.

To occupy my thoughts and to confirm that Rose did, indeed, have an identity that transcended a room number and a surgery label, I began to use the biblical concordance to do a search of names the Lord uses for the Redeemed. It turned out to be a rewarding. As a believer, you can take joy in claiming these titles, too.

Our Friend Knows Us

God calls us His friends. 

Proverbs 18:24 says He is a friend who “sticks closer than a brother.” John 15:14-15 says that Jesus does not consider us to be His servants; instead, He thinks of us as His friends.

God calls us His children. 

John 1:12-13 says that because we believe in His name, we are “born of God” and are declared His children.

God calls us His inheritors and direct heirs.

Romans 8:16-17 explains that, yes, since we are children of God, that designation automatically makes us “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” so that we will inherit a full “share in His glory.”

God calls us His sheep. 

In John 10:14, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep, and My sheep know Me.” If we go astray, He will search for us. If we are in need, He will lead us to green pastures and beside still waters. He protects His flock day and night.

God calls us His beloved. 

Deuteronomy 33:12 says, “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.” God holds us, tends to us, nurtures and protects us. Truly, He loves us. We are His beloved children.

God calls us His witnesses. 

In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His followers, “You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Today, we serve as evangelists, missionaries, pastors, elders, deacons and teachers, eagerly sharing the proclamation of salvation to all who will hear. Indeed, we have seen the truth of God’s Word, and now we are carrying that message near and far as witnesses of how life changing that truth can be.

Retaining Our Identity

Shakespeare wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, not my Rose. I wanted her own name to be used; so, as I sat in her room and waited for her to regain consciousness, I made sure every doctor, nurse and housekeeper who came in to check on her heard her name, and I asked them please to use it when addressing her or even referring to her. They complied graciously, and all was well. 

Hours later, when Rose woke up, she turned in her bed and watched me as I continued to flip through the pages of the Bible and jot notes. Groggily, she asked, “What in the name of creation are you doing?” 

I looked up, weighed that a moment, then replied, “Funny you should ask.”

This article was originally published in the October 2016 issue of The War Cry.