Jonah had strep a few weeks ago so he stayed home with me for a couple days until his medicine kicked in and he was no longer contagious. He was my little buddy as we spent the mornings playing and hanging out – something he and I rarely ever get to do by ourselves.
He was also excited about riding in the car with me to drop Vivienne off at preschool and then pick her up at lunchtime. And since he used to attend that same preschool, he recognized several teachers who worked there when he had attended. And all the teachers recognized Jonah too.
“How is school going for you, Jonah?”
“Jonah, you’re getting so big!”
“I’m so glad to see you, Jonah!”
Of course, he was thrilled that they remembered him, and it did my mama heart good to see that they were generally happy to see him. I certainly love that little preschool – the teachers and leaders love their students and take a special interest in each child.
It’s always nice to show up some place where everybody already knows your name. It reminds me of the theme song from that old show “Cheers:” (And yes, I realize I’m showing my age here.)
Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
As a military family, I understand how it feels to arrive at a new place where no one knows your name. It can be frightening and intimidating to walk into a social situation with people who have been friends since childhood. I mean, how can you compete with that sort of intimacy?
Recently, I encountered a situation which was probably discouraging and intimidating to those experiencing it.
Our church here in Valdosta served as a Red Cross shelter for the many evacuees fleeing from Hurricane Matthew so the kids and I decided to take some water and snacks for those families to munch on.
As we walked into the church, I noticed elderly couples drinking coffee, young families with small children huddled together in a group, single adults wandering around staring in disbelief at their cell phones. My heart went out to each of these people as they waited to hear if their homes were still standing.
I thought about the fear these families must have felt:
- Being in an unfamiliar location far from home
- Being ministered to by strangers where no one knew their names or situations
- Wondering if they would even have a house to go home to
The next day, Brienne and I returned to serve again. As I was cleaning one of the rooms, I began speaking with an elderly woman who had been staying at the shelter for a few days. In tears, she told me how her 90-year old husband had refused to leave their home. She heard that he was okay but that she couldn’t return to her home because of all the damage. I could only listen to her story as I blinked back my own tears.
Serving at the Red Cross shelter opened my eyes in new ways to the needs of others.
Some of the families arrived with nothing.
Some will return to their homes and find they have lost everything.
Some of the people, like the elderly woman I spoke with, just needed a listening ear.
But all of the evacuees needed someone to know their names and know their stories.
I didn’t know the names of all 250 evacuees in our shelter, but God did. The good news is that Jesus not only knows their names. He knows their needs. And he knows their stories.
This week, let’s be intentional to speak to those who are lonely. David Platt once said that we should make ourselves available because “God desires to include you in his work.”
Let’s pray that the Lord would open our eyes to those who need a friend, who need someone to know their name and listen to their story.
And then let’s sacrifice our agenda each day to be willing to go wherever God is working.
But now this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
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