Next week, school will start again, and our children will enter their classrooms.  

They will have a new teacher and meet new friends and old.  Beginning something new is always a stressful experience.  There are feelings of uncertainty, apprehension over expectations and concerns about being accepted and belonging.  

To help children feel at ease and welcomed, some teachers will have name tags prepared for younger students.  Other teachers will have place cards with names on desks.  Some will greet their students at the door and seek to call each one by name.

Someone has said that the sweetest sound is the mention of your name.  Seeing your name, or hearing your name read or spoken says that you have a place, and you were expected.  Hearing your name is a comforting feeling because you know that you belong.

Sometimes it is easy to feel insignificant or unimportant.  In a crowd we can feel lost, forgotten or overlooked.  In our world today, people are depersonalized, and we can be referred to as simply a number.  We are order number 748, or customer number 22.  

When companies hired someone they used to report to the Personnel Office, now they go to Human Resources.  People can be viewed as resources to be used rather than members of a family or team to be valued.

Within scripture, God makes it clear that you and I are never lost in a crowd.  God knows not only our name, but our very heart as well.  God called Moses by name from a burning bush in Exodus 3.  God called a young boy Samuel by name as he was in bed in 1 Samuel 3.  Jesus called Saul (Paul) by name as he was on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians in Acts 9.

Zacchaeus was a small man who wanted to see Jesus.  A large crowd formed and Zacchaeus was pushed aside.  Because of his stature, he climbed a tree in order to see him.  As Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, in the midst of the crowd He turned and looked directly at Zacchaeus.  Jesus called him by name to come down from a tree for He wanted to go to his house.

How special and surprised Zacchaeus must have felt that Jesus knew and spoke his name.  Not only did Jesus call him by name, but He wanted to have a relationship with Zaccheus.  This relationship with Jesus radically changed his life.

God knows everything about you.  He knows everything about your past, what is happening with you right now, and He knows your future, too.  God loves you so much that He had Jesus die to pay the penalty of sin and set you free from the power of sin.  You are so special to Him that when you get to heaven He will give you a white stone with a name on it that will only be known by you and God, Revelation 2:17;  a secret name between God and you.

The sweetest sound of all is having God whisper your name.  Right now, if you stop and listen with your heart, you will hear God calling your name for He wants to have a relationship with you.

Pastor Mark Hiehle is the Senior Pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene at 1300 S. 29th St. in Chickasha, OK.

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