By Phil Geyer

Several neighborhood squirrels regularly come to visit at my house. Perhaps the roasted peanuts that I leave out have something to do with their attention. Since they are there so often it seemed appropriate to name them. They look quite a bit alike, so to avoid confusion, I have named each of them “Rocky”. None of them should be offended, since each is named after the world’s most famous flying rodent. I call this my George Foreman naming convention.

This results in some interesting conversations with my spouse:

Me: Rocky stopped by this morning.

Long Suffering Wife: That’s nice.

Me: I haven’t seen Rocky, though.

LSW: Oh.

Me: However, Rocky was by this afternoon.

LSW: Um.

It is truly amazing that even after 44 years of marriage we still have such interesting and thought provoking conversations.

Naming is not always so simple. In the course of a week, I might be called Phil, Smokey, Dad, Grandpa, Dr. Geyer (no, I don’t have a PhD), Deacon Phil, and names that I shouldn’t repeat.

When my wife and I talked about what to name each of our children. Some of my suggestions were not well received. “How about Mire Geyer? Oh, don’t give me that slimy look.” “How about Tire Geyer? He would really get a round.” For some reason, my wife would not take many of my suggestions seriously. Even appropriate nicknames such as “Cacophony” have been rejected.

In actuality, naming our children was a challenging privilege. We prayed and talked together. Even I was able to be serious, some of the time. We had received a blessed gift from God. Naming the gift was a special privilege. How did God see this new person? How did each of us see him or her? We had names we liked, names we didn’t like, names that had history in one or both families and many other considerations.

Through it all, I knew that God knows each of us by name. As it says in Isaiah 43, He not only knows us by name, but we are His. We each are precious to Him and we have His protection. He is our only Savior. In the tenth chapter of John, when Jesus is taking about being the Good Shepherd, he says that the gatekeeper calls his sheep by name. He loves us, in spite of our many imperfections. So when I greet the squirrel outside my door “by name”, I sometimes think of my Father in heaven, who knows me both inside and out, but loves me anyway.   He will never confuse me with another “Phil” or “Smokey”.

Although I can’t tell them apart, I know that the Lord who watches over the sparrows, can keep track of my squirrels. I don’t know if He names them, but I know that he knows my name. He has a place for me. When I get to heaven, Jesus will greet me and say, “Welcome, Phil (or maybe, Smokey).”   He might even add, “By the way, Rocky is waiting for you.”