He Knows Our Names

As most of us already know by the widespread news coverage and swiftly sweeping social media posts of yesterday, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna (Gigi) were killed in a helicopter crash, along with seven other passengers including the pilot.

Immediately this morning upon engaging on social media, I found myself scrolling through tributes, heartfelt words of sympathy, well wishes, and prayers offered to Vanessa Bryant and her three surviving daughters.

I heartily include myself in those numbers today, because I cannot fathom the effort just breathing in and out takes for a woman faced with such a devastating blow and loss beyond what any of us should ever have to bear.

The loss of a spouse has its own set of heartbreak, but to compound that agony with the loss of a child in the same breath is beyond any superlatives I can think of in my vocabulary storehouse.

So, as often as Holy Spirit prompts me, I shall gladly intercede on behalf of Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and baby Capri, who will only remember her daddy and big sister from photos, videos, and stories she hears from now until forever about these wonderful people who were taken from her life too soon.

That brings me to the other thought tumbling around in my head.


We all have one.

We don’t all have names instantly recognized in the news media like Kobe Bryant. Most of us will live the allotted number of days God has for us without a televised interview marking our presence here on earth.

We won’t have words commemorating our existence beyond Facebook posts, Instagram photos and captions. Oh,  and if the price is right — those we leave behind will write either a spartan account of our legacy — or possibly someone will assemble a living testament to what we did or didn’t accomplish with our days.

I guess the two things fluttering in tandem in my mind are these:

  • What story are you writing every day only you can tell, in order that it may outlive your time here on earth?
  • How can we alter our mindset in order to make sure every life matters, every story matters — not just the ones who belong to the names we recognize? 

I am not trying to minimize the impact of the Bryant’s loss yesterday in any way.  However, somewhere in the neighborhood of 151,000 other people potentially lost their lives as well, according  to the world death rate statistics for 2019. That means yesterday, in the same hour Kobe Bryant and his helicopter carrying eight others crashed, approximately 6,300 other people died.

That’s a lot of loss.
That’s a lot of grieving.
That’s a lot of names.
Names almost all of us will never know.
Yet, God had a purpose and a plan for each of those folks, too.
He knew their names.
He called them by name both on this side, and now on the other side of time and space.

My dearest friend in the whole world lost both of her parents in a short 13-month period. By the world’s standards, their deaths were not unexpected or tragic in any newsworthy fashion.

Yet, Ned and Mary lived — each of them for more than 70 years.

They made an impact, left a legacy, left children and grandchildren to carry on their story for the next generations.

One of the comments my sweet friend has repeated since both her mom and dad have been gone is this, “I don’t want them to be forgotten.”

I have found sharing stories of what I remember of each of them to bestow much-needed comfort, elicit a giggle occasionally, and to validate the lives of the only parents she will ever have. These people didn’t have notoriety, but they matter. They were known . . . both by Jesus and by those whose paths they crossed.

I think that is the heart’s cry of every single one of us. Whether you commemorate it as “trips around the sun”, birthdays, aging, or marking time; we all have a deep inner longing to be known and to be remembered.

How can we be about notating our own stories and God’s hand in them for the generations to follow?

I think the topic I find most fascinating at this time of my life is that of recalling those folks who became posthumously famous. Many of my favorite authors knew little to no fame during their lifetimes. They died with no knowledge of what was to carry on after them beyond the grave. Their name was not known and certainly not “a household name” like Forrest Gump is fond of saying.

So, maybe our goal need not be to strive for fame or a name recognized by anyone other than the One who created us. He will take care of the rest as we strive instead to glorify Him with our words, our actions, and our very lives.

As my thoughts were beginning to gel and take shape this morning, I heard the following song by Francesca Battistelli.  I think it is a fitting culmination to my veritable mind dump with you.

Here is the chorus: (click on the video to watch in its entirety)

“I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name 
He knows my name.

So, as I close, I will remind you to pray for the Bryants, but also pray for anyone missing someone today. If you know someone personally who has experienced the loss of a loved one (and almost all of us have),  reach out to them, let them know you remember,  let them see their loved one mattered.

I would love to hear/read your thoughts on this topic. Feel free to leave a comment, and we’ll discuss!

Leaving a trail of beauty ~



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