The young man walked briskly down the long corridor to Room 419, hesitated a moment, then pushed open the door. Not having seen his old friend and mentor for many years, he didn't know what to expect; but was happily surprised to be greeted by that same old infectious and familiar smile.
Shaking his friend's hand (now frail with age) he pulled up a chair right next to the bed; "So this is where the great professor hangs out, eh? - tucked away in a hospital bed."
The old man chuckled. "Hanging out, you say? Leave it to the young to think of nifty ways to say one's growing old."
Still smiling, the old man reached over and touched the Bible that his friend was carrying; "Son," he said in a raspy voice, "I see you're carrying on where I left off. You're shepherding the flock."
"Yes, Professor, and everything I know, I learned from you."
The old man's face lit up, "Would you do me a favor, Son, and read to me from the Bible? My eyes, you know."
"Of course, I'd be happy to. What would you like me to read?"
"Something from 1st Chronicles, please, if you don't mind."
"Sure!" Although a bit puzzled by his choice of "boring" Chronicles instead of "comforting" Psalms, his young friend nevertheless opened up the Bible and began reading aloud:
"And Arphaxad begat Shelah, and Shelah begat Eber. And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg and his brother's name was Joktan. And Joktan begat Almodad , and Sheleph and Hazarmaveth and Jrah, Hadoran..." etc, etc, etc,
After a few minutes of reading and struggling with the pronunciation of all the difficult names, the exasperated pastor paused, and glanced over at his friend. Talk about a captivated audience, he thought to himself.
The old man's eyes were closed, a slight smile caressed his lips, and his countenance exuded peace, contentment and serenity. Amazing, Unbelievable; either he has fallen asleep and is dreaming, or...
A bit frightened, he whispered his name; "Tom?"
"Oh, yes," the professor smiled, and without even opening his eyes he let out a contented sigh, "please continue."
The young man sighed also (but for a different reason), then struggled on with his reading: "Shobal; Alian and Manahath, and Ebal begat Shephi and Onam; Elishama and Eliada and Elighelet, by Eglah his wife..."
Thankfully, the reading was interrupted by the nurse. "I'm sorry, Sir, but Professor Barnham needs his rest now; perhaps you can come back and visit another day."
The two friends shared the benediction, shook hands, but before the young man departed... he had to ask: "Why 1st Chronicles, Professor? There's nothing very comforting about a long list of unpronounceable names."
"Oh no, my Son, you're wrong!" the old man said with his familiar, infectious smile; "it's much, much more than that! Reading the Chronicles reminds me that our Heavenly Father knows the name of each and every one of his children by heart. Isn't that beautiful? What a comfort and joy it is to know God knows us...and calls each of us by name."
Many years later, the young pastor, now old and gray himself, visited the gravesite of his dear friend and beloved mentor. He was remembering the last time he stood in this place. He'd been surrounded by mourners, and although there were wall to wall flowers, they didn't cover the scent of freshly turned dirt in the air, and he'd left with a heavy heart.
Today, he stood alone on a beautiful carpet of green, reading the inscription on the large slab of stone marking his friends resting place.
"God Knows me By Name"
however, for the Edification of my fellow Earthlings
Here Lies THOMAS WILLIAM BARNHAM
1919 - 2002
"So here's where the great professor hangs out," he said aloud, "tucked away in a graveyard, waiting for Resurrection Day when God will call him by name."
He could almost envision his old friend chuckling at his nifty remarks, as he slowly walked away with the telephone book of names in I. Chronicles still echoing through his mind.
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