I frequently find the offbeat segments of the news a refreshing change of pace amidst the stories we call newsworthy each night. An amusing story about a recent college graduate caught my attention some months ago.
His name is Scott, a university student who had to wear a nametag for a seminar and decided on a whim to leave his nametag on for the remainder of the day. That night he calculated that he had met nearly twenty new people, had participated in many more conversations, and generally found that people, including himself, acted friendlier. So Scott decided to wear the nametag everyday. For more than nine hundred days now, he has silently announced to everyone near him: “Hello! My Name is Scott.” He is now convinced that wearing a nametag serves as a hospitable icebreaker, inviting people to open a door, indiscriminately encouraging an exchange among strangers, and generally reminding the wearer to be a more approachable person. Commenting on the use of nametags, author Anne Bernays notes, “It’s sort of like an invitation. People recognize that names are profound. It’s not just a nametag. It’s a signal they want to be friends.”(1)
Names are indeed profound. As the old hymn declares triumphantly, “Arise, my soul, arise! Shake off thy guilty fears. The bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears: Before the throne my Surety stands; my name is written on His hands, my name is written on His hands.” In this one magnificent verse, Wesley has impressed the truth of more than a few sermons. Our names are written on the hands of Christ. King David writes of this profound intimacy between God and his children in Psalm 139: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
In my life, I have asked many dishonest questions of God, both knowingly and unknowingly. Sometimes I think Christ allowed me to hide behind them, other times he seemed to make it clear that coming out of hiding was the answer. And in his answering, just as Zacchaeus was ordered to come down from the tree, he called me by name.
Chances are it is easy to question God in trying or desperate times, to question in the heartrending moments of life how there could be a God who is loving or good or near. But would you see things differently if you heard God calling your name, if you saw Christ carry it to the cross and beyond it? Before the throne my surety stands; my name is written on his hands. Would it change your question if you considered the God who both knew us before we were woven together in our mothers’ wombs, but who also stepped into the world as one of us to place his own name in our hands, initiating a relationship, presenting hospitably the love of a God who wants and wills to be known.
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1) “Hello my name is ‘one friendly guy.'” www.cnn.com, 28 Apr. 2003.