I wasn’t in the field to chase after the ball. I wasn't hitting. I wasn't pitching. I was on the bench. The same bench I had sat on for the last 3 games.
It was high school baseball in September, the weather was warm, the nights were perfect for a game. But, I wasn’t playing. You’d think, since it was just fall ball and none of the games counted for an official record, that the coach would rotate players in to get them some innings. In my mind, that’s how a team gets better. Everyone gets to play and improve. This wasn’t my coach’s approach.
A few games ago, the other team didn’t have enough players, so I got sent to play for the other team. It was the first game I had played that fall. I was thrilled. I thought that if I showed the coach how good I was, he’d surely put me in for a future game. I got a hit early in the game and the only out I made was a hard line drive to the third baseman. I pitched against my own team and did well. I thought for sure that I had made a great impression, showing that I was worth being developed for the future of the high school baseball team.
It didn’t make any difference. There I was, 3 games later, still sitting on the bench. By about the 4th inning of the 7 inning game, I got really sad. I felt like I was in a deep pit. I could see the game, but surrounding me was dark, cold mud. Thoughts started swirling in my brain. Some of them mad. Mad that I was wasting my time. After the game ended, I knew that I still had a bunch of homework I had to do. Why was I wasting my time here? “I know he’s not going to put me in.”
The coach hadn’t looked at me all game. I felt like he hadn’t said a word to me in at least 2 weeks. “What am I doing here?” I said to myself as the lump in my throat, the boulder of potential weeping that was building in my neck, crept ever higher ready to burst out as crying. “I don’t think he even knows my name,” I thought to myself. “I bet he wouldn’t even notice if I left.”
So, I quietly gathered my things and left the dugout. I walked quietly towards my house that was only a couple hundred yards away. As I walked away slowly, no one shouted after me, no one stopped me, no one noticed.
You may feel like no one notices you, no one cares about you, no one knows your name. You may feel like God doesn't notice you, care about you, or even know your name. You're not the only one who has ever felt this way. David sometimes felt that he was alone with no friends:
"My eyes are always on the Lord, for He rescues me from the traps of my enemies. Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all!" Psalm 25:15-16
David sometimes felt that God had forgotten about him:
"O Lord, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?.." Psalm 13:1-2
We know that God has promised that He will never leave us, never forsake us (John 14:16). But sometimes, our feelings don't paint an accurate picture. The very hairs on our heads are all numbered (Matthew 10:30) and yet our feelings of being forgotten can linger sometimes, can't they? These feelings aren't accurate based upon what God tells us in Revelation.
"Peanut" is what Marvel's Ant-Man calls his daughter. Marvel's Wasp is called "Jelly Bean" by her mom. These pet names mean as much to the characters if not more than their given names. No one else knows them except the two characters involved (let's ignore that we know because of the movie). The special name is evidence of love, fondness, and history. I have a pet name for my wife that no one else knows but her and I. If I were to say it, it probably wouldn't mean much to anyone else and would most likely be confusing, but to my wife there is a history, a story, an idea linked to it. I think it means a lot to her. Did you know that scripture says God has a pet name for you? At least, I think He might. Check out this passage from Revelation:
“To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17
Imagine the walls of fear and the barricades of self-protection that will fall when you learn His name for you. You won't be wondering if your virtues were shiny enough. You won't be frightened by a mountain of worry. You won't be feeling a chasm of distance between you and Him. Your shoulders will drop and your spirit will be warmed with relief when you realize how much He cares about you. I believe it will be one of the most comforting experiences of our existence.
Let that sink in for a minute. Linger with the idea that God knows your name, that He has a new and special name for you.
Max Lucado writes a story about someone who experiences this. You Are Special tells the story of a little wooden person named Punchinello who goes to see his maker Eli. Eli lives on the hill and is the maker of all the wooden people. One day, Punchinello climbs the hill in order to see Eli. He walks in and is overwhelmed by the size of everything. Scared, he turns to walk away. At that moment, he heard his maker say his name:
"Punchinello!" The woodworker said.
"You know my name?" Punchinello asked.
"Of course I do, I made you." said the maker.