Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
I think they call it identity theft.
Back in the day,
I just called it bad memory.
I must admit that I am not the greatest
at remembering names.
As a pastor, it is a skill that
I am trying to improve.
Over the years,
I have been called
and most of all Doug.
I must have a mono-syllabic face.
When I was in college years ago
in a far off city,
I went to a small group Bible study
with a couple of friends.
At the first gathering,
I introduced myself as Dave.
Since I was new to the group,
the leader, named Jim, asked me to share with the group
some information about myself.
It went something like this.....
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Doug.
I gently corrected him regarding my name
and went on with my story.
Later during the study,
as we were discussing a topic,,
Jim looked at me and said,
What do you think about that, Doug?
Uh, my name is Dave, I said
and then I am sure I offered
a deeply profound theological answer to his question.
At the end of the study,
we closed in prayer.
During the prayer, Jim said,
Lord, we are so grateful
that you brought Doug to this gathering tonight.
I felt blessed.
I was 3,000 miles from home.
I had just arrived in the city two weeks prior
knowing no one,
I had become Doug.
My two friends apologized to me
on the ride home.
A week later,
I decided to go again with my friends to the study.
Jim warmly welcomed me back,
gave me a strong handshake,
It's good to see you Doug,
I hope you have had a great week!
Oh it was great, I said....
until I got here, I thought.
I reminded him that when
I had come out of the womb,
my mother uttered the name, David, not Doug.
Two more Bible studies came and went.
I was actually enjoying the study
and meeting new people.
But to Jim,
I was the nicest Doug that he had ever met.
My friends convinced me to go with them to the church
that was sponsoring this Bible study.
The next Sunday,
we went to this very large church
which had a college Sunday School class
with over 200 in attendance.
It felt a bit intimidating coming in the first time.
At the beginning of the class,
the leader of the class asked the Bible study leaders
to introduce any first timers.
Jim stood up across the room,
looked across at me
I'd like for you to meet Doug.
He's from Pennsylvania
and he's attending school here.
The nomenclature virus had now just spread to 200 people.
the hospitality squad converged on me
with the precision of a SWAT team,
and pinned me with a
Hi! My name is Doug name tag.
The group was then instructed to greet people around them.
Doug never felt so warmly greeted.
As I sat down in my seat,
I made a decision.
For one hour a week,
(well, two counting Bible study)
I was going to be the best Doug that I could be.
During the next few weeks an interesting phenomenon developed.
There arose within the class,
a large group or people
whom I now refer to as Dougites
because they knew me to be Doug.
There was however,
a small group of Davidites,
who were determined
to start a revolution
to convince the class and the world,
that I was David.
the large class would break into small groups
to discuss the topic of the day.
Often, I would end up in a group
made up solely of Dougites.
Those were the easy days.
It was when one or two
Davidites infiltrated into the small group
that things got interesting.
At some point in the small group discussion.
I would answer to the name David.
The Dougites would register confusion.
Oh, he's not Doug, the Davidites would say.
The Dougites would ask,
Is Doug your nickname?
Doug would answer No.
Your middle name?
Another no from Doug.
No, I'm just a Doug named David,
I would say,
not wanting to expose Jim's weakness for remembering names.
By the time we reached winter retreat,
the class was about 50% Dougites
and 50% Davidites.
This made for a very interesting two days up in the mountains.
I had become so used to answering to either name
that I didn't think about it anymore.
That was until we got to a group mixer
where all 200 of us had to form a single line
alphabetically by first name.
It was the point of reckoning.
I had to choose.
Was I Doug or was I David?
Let's just say in that moment,
I caused a great deal of confusion
in the D section of the alphabet line.
Dean was telling me I was in the wrong place.
Dina thought I was confused.
God bless Denny who tried to push me to another part of the line.
Finally I said,
The Davidites roared..........
Vive la revolucion!
It took awhile to convert all the Dougites
but it happened eventually.
It's important to know who we are.
We spend much of our early years trying to figure that out.
Some people never find out.
Perhaps the key in knowing who we are
is in understanding whose we are.
David means beloved.
I will never again dismiss that status in my life.
God loves each one of us so much
that He describes Himself in the book of Isaiah
much like a star crossed junior higher
who is in love for the first time......
I will never forget you.
Behold, I have inscribed your name
on the palm of my hands. (Is 49:15b-16)
God says that he knows who we are
before we were formed in the womb. (Jer 1:5)
May you always know your name
and thus know the depth of the passion
that God feels for you.
As for Doug......
may he long live in the body for which he was intended.
As for Jim........
David says hi.