Yesterday morning I did what could’ve been one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do. My nephew plays on a special needs baseball team each Saturday morning, along with some amazing athletes. During the season, my family and I do our best to catch as many of their games as we can. Nothing beats watching them cheer each other on and pour their hearts into every play. That’s another tear-jerker blog for another day.

Last season, I joked about bringing up my sound system and playing “big league” with them. Maybe I’d announce their names, play some music, call the play-by-play action and let them feel like their heroes on TV. Well, I got that chance. Completely unknown to them, the coaches lined them up on the field as we blared the National Anthem. And as if it were rehearsed, they all yelled “Play ball!” in unison and cheered all the way to the dugouts. Perfect start!

I didn’t anticipate what God was about to show me though as each batter stepped to the plate. Every time I announced their name, they responded with unimaginable pride like I’ve never seen. Some threw their hands in the air, some bowed, some couldn’t stop smiling as their families cheered. In fact, by the second inning, some wouldn’t even step up until they heard the booming sound of their name in the air. One young man even pointed to me as to say “You know what to do. Hit it!”.

Then it dawned on me… the sound of your name. The glorious sound of your own name and being known and recognized!

Not many things are better than hearing someone calling your name to cheer you on and let you know they love you. Just like Norm from Cheers, for a moment, you step into the spotlight feeling as if you’re unstoppable and even, just maybe… unforgettable.

The Spirit spoke to me that morning, not necessarily in words I could hear, but in words that spoke to me just as loud. Here it is.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.

“I have called you by name”! Can we think about this for a second? God Almighty calls YOUR name. The Creator of the Heavens and Earth calls YOUR name. The same God who put on human flesh and took the guilty verdict for you shouts out YOUR name! If you don’t get the weight of this, read that verse over and over until you do!

God tells us, “I’m throwing the greatest head to head game in history and I want you on my team.” He has a position for you to play and a jersey for you to wear. The field is ready and Hebrews 12:1 tells us “we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses” ready to cheer you on.

When times get tough, it’s easy to feel like we’re just benchwarmers, the backups to those MVPs who seem to play with great success. It’s easy to feel like the ones in the dugout who are kind of forgotten as the game goes on. But it’s important for us to remember that in the midst of our struggles, God knows your name. When it seems like no one else cares, God knows your name. In the 9th inning, when it all seems hopeless, He knows your name.

Sometimes the game feels long, especially when we seem to be losing. But keep your ears open and be ready to step up to bat. You play for the greatest coach ever and you are an MVP in His eyes.

John 10:3 “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”