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During a meeting at church, the pastor was commenting on our various strengths. He looked at me and said, “Bob, you’re the kind of guy that works in the background, behind the scenes.”

At the time, I interpreted that as, “You’re not cool enough or smart enough to be out where everyone can see you. You are only good enough to be in the background without recognition.” This interpretation probably wasn’t fair, but it did color my self-image for many, many years. I always saw myself as the stagehand, not the star of the show. Or the water boy instead of the quarterback. Or the class usher instead of president. Or the one that handles the sound instead of the speaker. With this kind of self-image, I never set the bar very high for myself. As with so many things, this became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t demand too much of myself, and few expected very much from me. I was resigned to being the nameless, anonymous person behind the curtain.

In my mid-twenties, I saw a presentation about Naaman the leper. This was in the time of Elisha, the prophet. Naaman was a Syrian general, favored by the king. In his household was a young, Israelite slave girl. She told Naaman, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria (Elisha). He would cure him of his leprosy.” (2Kings 6:3)

Eventually Naaman did, and he was cured. The names recorded in the account were Naaman, Elisha and Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. But wait. What about the young Israelite slave girl who started this chain of events? What was her name? I don’t know. The Bible doesn’t say. But she played a pivotal part in the story. Yet, she wasn’t named.

That made me wonder if there were other cases like hers. And there were.

Pharoah’s daughter rescued Moses from the Nile and death. Moses would go on to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the edge of the promised land. He would write the first five books of the Bible. If Pharoah’s daughter hadn’t saved Moses and protected him as he grew up, maybe none of this would have occurred. She was key in the life of Moses. Yet she wasn’t named. (Exodus 2:5, 6)

Rahab hid and protected the two spies before the fall of Jericho. They promised that she would be saved from the destruction of the city. Rahab went on to marry Salmon and bear an ancestor of the Messiah. Yet the spies who saved her are not named. (Joshua 2)

Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. Their conversation was key in opening the good news to the Samaritans. She played an important part in spreading the good news in that area. And she remains nameless. (John 4:4-42)

Philip came across an Ethiopian eunuch. His conversion led to the establishment of the Ethiopian church. Pretty big deal! Yet the Bible doesn’t tell us his name. (Acts 8:26-39)

My favorite is the Philippian jailer. (Acts 16:25-34) Paul and Silas are in his prison. There is an earthquake. The cell doors are thrown open. The chains are loosened. The jailer would have heard the whole story of Paul’s incarceration - about the slave girl cured, the trumped up charges against Paul and Silas and the flogging. The jailer probably also heard Paul and Silas singing in the night. And now the earthquake and the fact that everyone was still present. No one had escaped. It was all too much. He blurts out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas reply, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” I cling to that simple yet powerful phrase. And who was the jailer? The Bible doesn’t say.

I have come to accept who I am. I am not an eloquent speaker. I am not a dynamic leader. I am not an engrossing conversationalist. My skills are limited. My faith is often weak. And yet, God has used my weaknesses and lack of talent, as He has done with so many of us. (2 Cor. 12:9, 10) Our church is full of behind the scenes kind of people. As a group, we can and have tackled enormous, impossible projects. And with God’s help, we have been successful. I am honored to be counted among the nameless serving our God.

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