The older I get, the more difficult it is for me to quickly remember names. Often my wife and I, in thinking of some incident in our long lives, will try to remember the name of a person involved. Eventually, sometimes after days, one of us will come up with either a first or last name, and then the other will remember the other part of the name. Many times in the Bible, God will use someone in a wonderful ministry, but for some reason or another, He does not reveal their name. (And it was not because He forgot.)
Former President Ronald Reagan displayed on his desk at the Oval Office these words: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” Often in business, sports, and yes, even in Christian ministry people are offended because they did not get what they thought was proper public acknowledgement for something they have done.
As I read through the Bible and recall so many wonderful stories, I often wonder what “his” or “her” name was. But for some reason, God has not chosen to reveal that to me.
In 2 Kings 5, there is an interesting story about a prominent man by the name of Naaman. “Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper” (2 Kings 5:1). Were it not for the last five words in this verse, Naaman would have been a very enviable man. He had an important position. He was successful. He was honorable. As Captain, he had won some great victories for his country. This great man was stricken with the dreaded disease of leprosy.
He heard about a prophet in Israel who had performed some great miracles. He went to Israel and eventually found this great prophet and after some misunderstanding finally did what the prophet told him to do and was wonderfully healed. You remember that story don’t you? By the way, what was the name of that little Jewish servant girl who told him about Elisha?
In John 6 we have an account of one of the wonderful miracles of our Lord. He took two barley loaves and two small fishes and fed more than five thousand hungry people. When the disciples had distributed the bread and the fish to the multitude of people, Jesus commanded them to gather the fragments that remained, and the disciples filled twelve baskets. Hey, Andrew, what was the name of that little boy who gave his lunch to be distributed?
There are many more examples we could give of nameless servants in the Bible whom God used to do big miracles. And God still uses people today whom we may never know.
I have been in full time Christian ministry for over fifty-five years. During those years I have seen God do some wonderful things through people who were either known by few or by none.
As I think about my life, I think about a teacher who was a great encouragement to me during my junior high school days. You don’t know her. I remember her name and more than once have communicated to her that she was a great blessing to me.
I will never forget a lady who conducted a Vacation Bible School in a little Methodist Church in Mannington, Kentucky. Most of you who will read this article know a bit about Don Sisk, but you have never heard of the Vacation Bible School teacher.
I will be eternally grateful for the classmate who invited me to go to a “Youth for Christ” meeting in October of 1948. It changed my life and my eternal destiny.
I will never forget my pastor insisting that I go to summer camp soon after my conversion. He paid the money so I could go.
And how could I forget the disabled veteran that sent two checks for $100 which was used to pay the rent for three days on the room where the Senri Newtown Baptist Church was born?
You may have never known of Ruby May Poe, Helen Lovlace, Bill Welch, J.D. Ratliff, and Jimmy Hughes, but these and countless others have in one way or another contributed to make me who I am today. The longer I live, the more I forget. However, the longer I live, the more I realize that it does not matter who knows or does not know our name. God knows. And it really doesn’t matter who gets the credit. What matters is that God gets the glory.