We spend a lot of our time talking about the men and women of the Bible, admiring how they "knew God." As if this knowledge of God was enough to drive them to Him for a little bit of saving grace.
Sometimes, that's true. Other times? It's God drawing us to Him.
Think about the story of Noah. We love to talk about the story of Noah, particularly in a time like this when this character is splashed across the big screen in a controversial movie. We talk about what it took for Noah to build the ark. The measure of faith he must have had to do what God asked him to do before it even started raining. We talk about his faithfulness to build the ark to exact measure, and his steadfastness to withstand the criticism of the masses. We talk about Noah in this story, and on the off-chance we talk about God, we talk about how crazy God seems. How He's always asking these big, ridiculous things that don't make any sense to anybody with a brain. We talk about how He knew what was coming even when Noah didn't, and His omniscience and incredible wisdom that He would plan for such a thing.
Do you remember how this story started? God was watching the news. The world was wholly wicked. Terrible, evil things were happening everywhere, every day. Committed by everybody. God was fed up with all of Creation and determined to destroy it all and start from scratch. He was willing to wipe out generations of the work of His hands because the world seemed too far gone. Then, God remembered Noah.
In order to remember him, God first had to know Noah. We always talk about Noah knowing God, but the cool thing about this story is that God knew Noah.
We're generations into humanity. There are already more men on this earth than I care to stand around and count stars in the sky. The overwhelming story of Creation is: this is a disaster. This is a failure. There is not one saving headline in all the story. God's big picture is taking over His mind. And then, in one simple, quiet moment....God remembers Noah. He remembers, out of all men, one man. One righteous man. Who is still doing things right. Who is holding on. Who is staying true. He remembers one grain of sand, one star in the sky, and it stops Him dead in His tracks.
Not all hope is lost. There is Noah.
It's easy at this point to get sucked back into Noah's story, but don't; stay with God's viewpoint for awhile. Look through God's eyes. Feel with His hands. Understand with His heart what's going on here: He knows every single man and woman (and monkey and leaf and amoeba) in His universe by name. Individually. Intimately enough that in the midst of all the chaos, in the throes of disappointment, in a critical moment when God is trying to figure out what He's going to do, He can remember one man out of many. One name out of countless names. One quiet Noah amidst all the noise. And God calls out to Him.
God uses that man who He knows so well.
Doesn't that just make your heart jump? Forget what you know about yourself. Forget the things you're afraid that God knows about you. He does know that stuff, but that's not what He's focused on. He's looking beyond your fallen nature into your righteous man, and He's already thinking about where He can use you.
God's got big plans. He has big decisions to make. This is chaos. This is the critical moment. He knows every man intimately enough to know when it's the moment for that man, and He knows him so personally as to call him by name. What does it mean, then, when God calls you by name?
It means He's got something big going on. It means things are about to change. It means this is your chance to get in on the story. Not just because you're here, but because you are you. Because you are uniquely you and this is your moment. It means God's looking around through all the chaos, and it is you who catch His eye. Out of countless many, He knows who the one is. It is you.
Isn't that powerful?
I spend a lot of my life trying to know God better. You probably have done the same. That's generally what we focus on because we feel like it's the part of the relationship we can control. But all of that devotion, all of that prayer, all of that discipline and faithfulness and...whatever you want to call it, is usually at the cost of remembering that God knows me. God knows you. He calls each one of us by name when it's our turn to step big into His story. We often think He does that because we're willing. Or because we're available. Or because He threw a dart and our tent took the bullet.
He calls us because He knows us. Intimately.