Introductions

A public introduction can be a tricky thing. One time before speaking at a women’s conference I received an endearing introduction given by a close friend. Her kind words stirred such emotion in me I had to fight back tears.

Another time I was to give a short lesson to a much smaller group of ladies where the average age hovered around eighty. The introduction I received that day was much more matter-of-fact. It went something like this:

Pastor was supposed to speak with us today, but I suppose something important came up. Instead, Anne is going to speak. We’re letting her go first in the program so she can get out of here.”

Hmmm….not exactly what I was expecting. Still there was no reason to take offense. When there is pie waiting to be eaten at the end of the meeting it’s best to forgo the flowery verbiage and stick to the facts.

Since that meeting I have been considering something. Every single day, I have the opportunity to introduce somebody to Jesus. Most likely it’s not going to be in an overt Bible-toting, public-speaking, church-going kind of way. My typical day does not include standing at the end of my driveway handing out fancy invitations to my next “Meet the Savior of the World” soiree.

Still, in a very public way my life extends a continual invitation to the watching world to see what my Christianity looks like. What I say and do on every usual day of my ordinary life is a representation of my own attitude toward God. Every syllable that resonates from my brain putting words and actions into motion says this is really who I think Jesus is. It is an invitation for others to observe what He means to me.

It can say I am small-minded and judgemental, reflecting every negative stereotype the world wants to portray. Or it can say I am a sinner deserving punishment, but through Christ I am saved by grace.

More importantly it can say to the world – come and see the One who saved me. The One I love. I want you to meet Him. His name is Jesus. Of course, He doesn’t need me to introduce you. He already knows your name.

“”The Lord came to us from far away, saying, “I have loved you with a love that lasts forever. So I have helped you come to Me with loving-kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3 (New Life Version (NLV)

My New Name

I have a confession to make. Growing up I wished for a fancier first name. I loved my middle name- Elizabeth, but Anne? Anne just seemed so ordinary and lackluster. It was, after all, a common middle name among my friends. That seemed proof enough to me that it was a second best kind of name. Even the extra “e” at the end only seem to confuse people who often mistook it for Annie.

As a little girl I often thought about what it would have been like to be named Elizabeth Anne instead of the other way around. I could have been nicknamed Beth like the tragic character in Little Women or Betsy like the famous American seamstress. In my mind, plain old Anne just couldn’t compare.

Then one day around my twelfth birthday someone gave me a laminated card with my name and its meaning. It read:  Anne – Hebrew origin, meaning, “Full of grace, mercy and prayer.” I was stunned. The name I thought so run-of-the-mill had such beautiful meaning. It identified exactly who I longed to be- a young woman full of grace, mercy and prayer. My perspective changed. Anne was now a name that I hoped to be worthy to grow into.

I don’t have to look far into the Gospel to find someone else who had to grow into his name. The Word tells me when Jesus met Simon son of John for the first time He told him he would call him Cephas or Peter. Peter- literally “the rock”. Peter was, in fact, anything but a solid rock of faith. His impulsive actions led him to jump out of a boat, cut off a servant’s ear and utter heartbreaking denials that he even knew Jesus. But in the end, he truly did become the pillar that the early church was built upon. Jesus saw Peter as if he already was what he would become! The solid rock of faith that would win many hearts for Christ.

It makes me wonder what Jesus’s name for me might be. How does He see me in the present state of who I am? Does He see me in the fullness of my imperfection or in His eyes am I still Anne- a woman full of grace, mercy and prayer? I think I have an inkling of the answer. In Revelation 2:17 Jesus says, “To him who overcomes…I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” The revelation of how God sees me now through His perfecting love. The new name I grew into.

More Than Enough

Like many young couples starting out, money was tight. Our two meager teacher’s salaries covered our bills, but not much else. There wasn’t money for an expensive honeymoon or extravagant house, but we were happy.

A few years later when I resigned my position to stay home with our growing family, finances began to get even more creative. Three little ones born in the span of four years meant what little extra money we had now went for diapers and baby necessities. My husband was still teaching, coaching every sport imaginable and working another part-time job. The dreaded task of managing our household expenses fell to me. Every time I sat down to pay the bills I wondered if there would be enough money in our checking account to cover the ominous stack of envelopes staring me down from the table.

One day an unexpected bill arrived in our mailbox. Had I been a really good money manager I would have known it was coming. But since I had gotten the job of Chief Financial Officer more or less by default, that was not the case. Frankly, my financial management style was similar to the method I used for weighing myself. I took a deep breath, blew all the air out of my lungs and then closed my eyes. When I opened them, I squinted slightly in hopes of seeing a better number. However, no amount of squinting could take away the fact that we didn’t have the money to pay this bill.

Interestingly, my Bible study during this time revolved around the Sermon on the Mount. I had just recently read the words in the sixth chapter of Matthew recording where Jesus told the crowds not to worry because God knew about their needs and would provide for them. I took that to heart and began praying about that big bill for which I didn’t have money to pay. I told Jesus that I trusted him to provide for us in whatever way he saw fit. I decided not to worry, but to trust.

Later in an inspired spurt of organization I decided to clean off my desk. Due to the enormous amount of time it would normally take, it was a job I had been putting off. However, the urge was so strong I decided to tackle it.

Soon I was filing and sorting papers, feeling an immense sense of accomplishment as the desk top began to clear. Just as I was finishing, I noticed a piece of paper sticking out at an odd angle from beside the desk. In all the shuffling it must have fallen and become wedged in the small place between the wall and the desk. When I pulled it out I realized that it was a check. And it was written for an amount that would more than pay the unexpected bill. God knew my need and He had provided more than enough.

It reminded me of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. John recorded that the crowds had followed Jesus into the hills because of the signs he had performed. Knowing there was no physical way to feed this hungry throng Jesus displayed his miraculous love by multiplying a boy’s five small barley loaves and two fish. When everyone had eaten and was satisfied the leftovers were collected. Twelve baskets remained. Jesus didn’t provide the bare minimum. There was an abundance. He always provides more than enough.

Many years have passed. Challenges have come and gone, but I have never forgotten that very concrete example of God’s provision in my life. His answers have not always come in the physical sense. I have never found another check tucked away in a nook in the wall. But very often in my spirit He whispers words of comfort and hope. His provision is constant and never-failing and His provision is always more than enough.