August 27, 2017


              The first document on which our names are recorded is our birth certificate.  From that moment on, and throughout our lives, we strive to get our name on documents, lists, medals, and monuments that matter to us - the ones that will ensure our futures, the ones that speak of our accomplishments, and the ones that will preserve our memory for years, possibly even centuries, to come.

          While we are still in school, we stay up nights and study, spend long hours doing homework, writing term papers, and memorizing facts in the hopes of getting our names on the dean’s list, on a diploma, or on a college degree.

          When we enter the work force, we put our name on a carefully written resume’, which we present to a prospective employer.  We then hope and pray that he places our name on his list of potential candidates for the job we are seeking.  When the phone finally rings and we are called in for an interview, we nervously try to respond to each and every question we are asked with the answers our interviewer is looking to hear.  And then we hope our name gets moved to the top of the list of those that will be hired.

          Some of us are involved in sports or hobbies, where we strive to win a medal, ribbon, or trophy of some sort, or at least receive recognition for our accomplishments.  I took up running almost 15 years ago.  Anyone who has ever competed in a 5K, or other such running event, knows that feeling you get after you cross the finish line, and then wait for the results.  Minutes seem like hours until the times and placements are posted!  When they are finally printed out and displayed, you and many others rush to the sheet and anxiously look for your name of those who will receive a medal.  If you spot your name next to that 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in your age group, you are happy and excited, and eagerly receive your medal when your name is called out during the presentation of awards.  If you don’t, you are sad and disappointed, and think to yourself, ‘if only I had tried a little harder’.  I have personally received quite a few medals for placing in my age group, but the event I will never forget is the 5 mile race where a woman passed me about a block before at the finish line.  I didn’t think she was in my age group, but soon afterwards found out that she was indeed, and it cost me the third place medal.  And so I went home empty-handed. 

          Rising actors and actresses dream of having their name in a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but far more are fortunate to just get a role in a TV commercial.  The top five American athletes of all time according to Bleacher Report are Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, and Jackie Robinson; and ESPN has now created a World Fame 100 rankings for current professional athletes.  But there are far more athletes, many who have even played professionally, whose names are not well-known, and have never been put on such a list.   No matter your passion, your profession, your talent – you have a desire to see your name on a certain list, called out by a certain person, or recorded in a certain book. 

          But all of the earthly places that we strive so diligently to get our name are nothing compared to the only place that truly matters.  When we pass from this life, or when Jesus returns, He will look for our name in His Book of Life.  Can you just imagine what it would be like if a scenario like the one I am about to describe played out in your life?  Picture me driving to church one day…  Suddenly a semi in the oncoming lane loses control and plunges headfirst into my little Spark.  Next thing I know I am standing at the gates to heaven, and the Lord has a large book open.  I anxiously wait for Him to find my name.  He searches and searches, and then looks up at me with a very sad face.   “I’m sorry, but your name is not here” He says.  “There must be some mistake!  Karen Fabian.  Please look again.” I plead with Him.  “No, I’m sorry.  It is not here.”  “Try my maiden name, Karen Themer”.  He looks again.  “That is not here either”.  I think for a minute.  “I was adopted! Maybe my birth name is listed…  Try Renee Sebeny.”  By now I am getting quite frantic as He looks one more time.  “I am truly sorry.  But your name is not here.  If only you had come to me while you were still alive.  I would have gladly put your name in my book.”  I ask Him through my sobs, “Now what happens to me???”  “You chose not to spend your eternity with me, so now you must spend it with all who have rejected my grace.  The angels will cast you into the outer darkness, where there is no light and no love, for God is both, and you cannot remain in His presence.” 

          Please do not let this fate happen to you.  I know it won’t really happen to me, because I have accepted the grace of our Lord Jesus.  I believe He died as atonement for my sins, rose from the dead, and lives and rules forevermore.  I am not trusting in my own righteousness and works for my salvation, knowing they could never earn my entrance into a holy kingdom that is completely free from sin and the curse that goes with it.   Therefore, when the day comes that I stand before my Lord and Savior, I will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23).  My prayer is that you will hear those same words someday, and we will celebrate together in heaven for all of eternity.  Amen.