I was only 7.
I had just finished setting the table for my mom. I remember, vividly, as I walked through the swinging doors from the dining room into the kitchen, seeing my mom standing at the stove browning the hamburger she was cooking for our dinner. I heard someone say my name out loud. "Kerri."
My mom was the only other person in the house with me, so I thought she had said my name to tell me another chore to do. So I asked, "What?" But she said she hadn't spoken to me.
Perplexed, I turned and walked down the hallway to my bedroom, then I suddenly remembered a Bible story I had been taught in Sunday School.
It was the story of Samuel. He was his mother's miracle baby, and because of her gratefulness to God for answering her prayer for a son, she had dedicated him back to God. So he was living in the temple to be trained by the priest to serve God and His people.
One day, as a young boy, Samuel heard someone call his name, and he thought it was Eli, the priest. It happened three times and each time Samuel went to Eli and asked what he needed. After the last time, Eli realized the Lord was speaking to Samuel, so Eli told him to answer the next time with "Speak Lord, your servant hears." Samuel did as he was told, and the Lord continued to speak the rest of what He had to say to Samuel.
So that's what I did that day when I was 7 when I heard someone say my name. I said "Speak, Lord, your servant hears." But He said nothing else, and He didn't tell me why He had called my name until 28 years later.
I was 35.
I remember, vividly, sitting on the floor in our home office that was across the hall from our bedroom. It was in the middle of the night, and I sat with my back against the wall and asked God, "What is wrong with me?" I was in desperate need of His help.
He answered me, and He told me all about myself. He made me remember. Then He made me remember that day when I was 7 when He spoke my name out loud. And then He made me realize that in spite of the things that had happened in my life, He had always been there.
He said my name out loud when I was 7 to give me an important memory. Then, 28 years later, He used that memory to bring me my much needed healing. He knew on that day when I was 7 that I would need to remember on that night when I was 35.
He has recently called my name out loud again. He did it two weeks ago, then again last week, and then a third time this past Sunday afternoon.
And I remembered again.
His voice sounded and felt familiar. He said it just as loudly and clearly as He did when I was 7. I was comforted by the sound of Him saying my name, and, this time, I knew why He said it.
He wants me to remember.
He wants me to remember how He has always been with me. He wants me to remember that He is still here, right now, no matter what I don't understand, no matter what happened yesterday, and no matter what may lie ahead of me tomorrow.
He said my name. Nothing else seems to really matter.