The beginning of the school year is an exciting yet stressful time for both students and teachers. I had my own classroom for 10 years, filled with middle and high school students. Each year, I had about 75 names and faces to learn in my language arts classes. Each name and face came with a distinct personality, unique needs, and special skills and talents. I always made it my goal on the first few days to call each student by name as often as possible.
They were important to me. Their names were important to me.
As they sat at their desks, I went down the rows naming each one. Sometimes, I'd pause, studying their faces, searching my memory for the name that belonged to the smile (or smirk). Eventually, they'd get impatient and save my failed memory by reminding me of their name. Other times, I'd call them by an older sibling's name whom I had taught in years prior.
Regardless, my goal remained the same . . . call them by their names.
By day two, I was able to successfully name each of my 17 students in one class. I was excited and showed it to my students with an enthusiastic fist clench and "Yes!" (think championship victory). When you teach teens and pre-teens, exaggerated excitement is essential even if it makes you look like a dork.
I had accomplished my goal. I remembered their names.
Then I thought about our Lord, not only does He know us by our names, but He knows everything about us: our thoughts, stresses, emotions, desire to serve Him, and sinful hearts.
It doesn't take him two class periods to know us well enough to connect our name with our face. He numbered our days before we even took our first breaths (Psalm 139:16).
There I was rejoicing and feeling pride because I was able to recall the names of 17 people while God "determines the number of stars, and calls them each by name" (Psalm 147:4).
Suddenly my accomplishment doesn't seem so big . . . and neither does the stress of a new school year.
I serve a God who can name the stars. The God who created those stars also created me—and, more than that, He loves me and has a plan for me.
Friend, no matter where you are right now, no matter how insignificant you feel, I pray that you realize just how important you are to your Creator. He calls you by name.
I am so in awe of your power and knowledge and wisdom. You call each star by name. You know every detail about me, even the number of hairs on my head. You know the days, hours, minutes, and even seconds that I will spend on this earth. Wow. You are an amazing God. Thank you for the way you know me and love me. I pray that more people would feel that love. That they would hear you call them by name and respond in worship. Thank you, Lord, for how great you are.
In Your will, through Your power, and for Your glory,