Throughout the years, Janet and I have had some strange things happen that we look back on with fondness and a smile. One such story came back to light on Tuesday when we had to present our passports and birth certificates to the TSA during our Global Entry interviews at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Janet’s birth certificate always presents a unique challenge when she is asked for it.
You see, when Janet tried to secure a passport early in our marriage, we found out that there was no record of birth for a “Janet” Boyd in Chicago. Strange, but true. After all, we got a marriage license and and everything else we needed until it came time for an adult passport. Now Janet had a passport as a teenager, and I don’t know how she got it, but we hit a roadblock when she tried to secure a passport as an adult.
When we received the official documentation from Cook County, we received the birth certificate for a “Judith” Boyd, born on the same day, at the same hospital, with the same parents as Janet. And no matter what we did, we couldn’t convince the officials that Judith was really Janet. So… we gathered Janet’s baptism records, an affidavit from the pastor who married us, a copy of all her elementary school records and documents from people who have known her all her life. Finally, after great consternation and discussion, Janet’s official birth certificate was modified. The name “Judith” was struck out and the name “Janet” was written above it.
Interestingly, since that time, we have also located birth certificates for her that read “Baby Girl” Boyd, “No Name” Boyd, and several other variations. But I have always known her as Janet. So how did Judith get there in the first place? Well, according to the folklore, Janet’s mother originally named her daughter Judith, for a day, until she was remembered that as a child, she had a dog named Judith. Not wanting to name Janet after the long gone family pet, the name was changed to Janet – but not in time to stop the recording of the original name by an overzealous hospital employee.
Anyway, that episode has followed Janet her entire life – well, at least every time she has needed official documents. And once again, we faced the issue last Tuesday at O’Hare. We happened to get one of those really stern looking, no-nonsense agents, like the kind of person you usually find at the airport security checkpoints. There wasn’t any levity until he asked Janet why her birth certificate contained the wrong name. Then, when Janet recounted the story, he burst into laughter and said that while he had heard many great stories, he had never heard anything like this before. We all chuckled and finished the interviews.
The point of the story this evening is that even if we have trouble proving who Janet is, God knows her name. Because she belongs to Him and He knows everybody who professes a belief. There are multiple verses in the Bible about the names of God’s people. For tonight, I have chosen a verse from Revelation 2:17, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”
In other words, God has a name for each of us. And even from the Old Testament, whoever named things had dominion and authority over them. Such was the case with Adam and the naming of the animals. So God has authority over each of us who believes in Him. Even if we have trouble knowing each other, or even our own names. My encouragement this evening is that God has a name for you. And that means that you are important to Him. My prayer is that you will realize that you are known, individually, to the Lord of the Universe. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…