How Well Are You Known?
Know and Be Known

Twenty years ago, I moved from New York City to a much smaller city in Florida. More of a small town, actually. I welcomed the fresh air, the slower pace, and the improved quality of life.

But I also needed to make some adjustments…

  • About a week after our move, after a particularly long day unpacking boxes, we tried getting a pizza delivered. Several phone calls later, we discovered nothing remained open after 10PM.
  • The satellite post office near our home closed for lunch each day.
  • I was late for church one morning because a cow stood in the road and a sheriff’s deputy blocked the street with his car while we waited for the cow to move.

One of the biggest adjustments I had to make was in realizing I could not leave the house without running into someone I knew. Someone from church or from our neighborhood. Someone from the interdenominational Bible study I attended or from the non-profit agency where I volunteered. The anonymity of living in a big city disappeared faster than a bag of M&Ms® at a chocoholic’s convention.

But that was nothing compared to what I’ve experienced lately on the Internet. Facebook seems to know exactly what ads fit my interests. One order on the Barnes & Noble website resulted in emails touting products geared to my interests. The website contains detailed information about me and anyone for whom I might be searching.

Total strangers seem to know me very well.

To know and be known – truly known – is our deepest desire. Even the apostle Paul noted, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:12).

God created us to know and be known. He created us to be intimately related to Him. He revealed Himself in His Word using a variety of names and attributes to help us know who He is and how He works. We learn from His Word that He is perfectly righteous and just, absolutely faithful and merciful, and truly trustworthy and holy. And because He is who He is, we can trust the most intimate facets of our life to Him. His Spirit resides in His children and nothing surprises Him – He knows the ugliest details and loves us anyway.

When we’re in a right relationship with the Lord, we’ll have the confidence to be vulnerable and transparent in our relationships with others. To know and be known is a gift, not just with God, but with fellow travelers on the road of life.

If you’re not as intimate with the Lord as you would like, what will you do about it?

What’s Their Story?

Do you love a good story?

what's their storyI do. And I was recently reminded of the multitude of stories – real life stories – all around me.

But all too often, I’ve been clueless.

This past week, I attended a Celebration of Life service for a friend’s 99-year-old mother. Both women were members of the same church I attended for many years.

I knew my friend fairly well. I thought I knew her mother, a “sweet little old lady.” Then I read a summary of her life story in the funeral program. This sweet little old lady who greeted me on Sunday mornings had been a powerhouse!

Miss Arrie was a petite, black woman born in 1917. Not so unusual. Ahhh, but read on…

During decades when women were considered second-class citizens and black women weathered a triple dose of blatant discrimination, Miss Arrie made her mark in the world. She married a pastor and raised a family. But as the television commercials say:

But wait! There’s more!

During decades when higher education was often limited to the realm of white men, this black woman obtained not one, not two, but three degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, a Bachelor of Science in elementary education, and a Master’s degree in education.

During decades when it was frowned upon for women to work outside the home, Miss Arrie began teaching in 1947 and taught until retirement.

Even retirement didn’t sideline her. She volunteered at the Jupiter Medical Center Auxiliary, Habitat for Humanity, and the Martin Country Teacher Retirement Association, among other organizations.

I never knew. I never knew because my conversations with Miss Arrie were mostly limited to social small talk. I didn’t learn her story until it was too late.

Still, I have the assurance I will see Miss Arrie again. And I look forward to deeper conversations in a place where we will all be known. I’m reminded of this verse:

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known”
(I Corinthians 13:12 NIV).

I know this verse speaks of our relationship with the Lord. But I believe it can have a secondary application to our relationships with each other. And I’m looking forward to a second chance to know Miss Arrie better.

What a reminder for me to pay attention to the people around me. To look around and ask, what’s their story?

How about you? Is there someone in your world with whom you need to become better acquainted? What’s their story?