A man wearing sunglasses approached the cash register of a pharmacy and told the employees he was going to rob them. The pharmacist stepped forward and thwarted the plans of the would-be burglar, preventing the crime before it came to fruition. But he didn’t scare the thief off by threat or weapon. The man was stopped dead in his tracks because the pharmacist knew his name. Recognizing his voice, the pharmacist called him by name and asked if the robbery was a joke. The man immediately spun around and ran out of the store, boarding a nearby city bus.
It is easy to enter into certain situations with a false sense of anonymity. Shielded under the veil of obscurity, the pharmacy break-in seemed somehow easier to carry out. The man walked in thinking he would carry out a faceless robbery, when in fact, the pharmacist knew his name, his address, and enough of his character to suspect it was a joke. Had someone not recognized him, he might have followed through with the crime.
God knows my name. At times, I may charge foolishly into life with the idea that some sins or thoughts can be hidden, but God shatters my false sense of anonymity by simply calling out my name. At times, like the pharmacy burglar, I may instinctively feel like running, finding myself suddenly exposed where I once thought I was safely hidden. But really, what point is there in running away from someone who knows your name?
“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me…Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (139:1-7).
There is one verse in this psalm that’s easy to overlook. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (139:6). There are many reasons that one might instinctively attempt to run from God. Often times, the thought of remaining in the presence of a holy God who knows your name is far too much to bear. David knew the terror of being caught in sin and called out by name. But he also knew the beautiful mystery of being in the presence of one who would never stop calling his name.
God knows your name and will not stop looking for you even though you hide. Though you turn away, God will not abstain from loving you. He will not stop striving to bring you back into his fold: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). This God calls his own sheep by name; such knowledge is indeed too lofty for us to attain.
Keeping the Faith,