I stood at the double doors clutching a blue folder in my nervous hands, already overwhelmed. There were hundreds of teenagers in there– confident, talented, experienced, suit-wearing, future-lawyer-type speakers and debaters. Over 400 of them. The girls wore heels and curls and lipstick; the guys hauled briefcases full of debate evidence and articles from the Economist.
I wore flats. And carried a folder. I’d never read the Economist in my life. I moved silently through the throng of peers, feeling oh, so insignificant.
My, how refreshingly accurate.
It was the first time I consciously realized the fact, when I entered the lobby of ORU’s Christ Chapel and found myself surrounded by hordes of impeccably dressed teenagers whom I had never met before. It was terrifying.
The feeling persisted as the week wore on. And yet, somehow, on the last day of the tournament, my name was called during awards. And my mind started to race.
Hmmm. That’s not bad. In fact, that’s pretty good. That’s actually pretty close to FIRST. And just think– if I’d gotten first, everyone would know who I was. They all would have remembered my name. And when I went back home, everyone there would have known my name, TOO. Gee, I wish I had gotten first. Then nobody– nobody anywhere in NCFCA– none of them would EVER FORGET MY NAME.
After the initial high of that tournament, that thought continued to shadow me all during the long trip home, and it lasted until this innocent little query drifted aimlessly through my mind.
I wonder who won Original LAST year?
And it was like fireworks bursting overhead. I didn’t know. No clue. Hadn’t the foggiest idea. Not even a glimmer. She (or he) was doubtlessly amazingly talented, a wonderful person, a spectacular communicator– but I didn’t know her (or his) name. Which led to a logical question. Even if I’d won the whole shebang, who would have remembered my name? And if, even if they did, how long would it take for them to forget?
And then (because God likes to underscore life lessons, and highlight them, and write them in 72 point bold font), that very day, I picked up a (random) devotional book, and (randomly) opened it (at random). “And they said, ‘Go to, let us build us a city and a tower…and let us make a name for ourselves.”
I read on to the commentary. “These men voiced the intent of every human being who has ever lived since Adam. Since the fall, every man desires to build a tower and a name…”
And it was like light dawning. I’d been using each trophy and medal as a building block for my tower. I’m guessing there are some of you that this is true of also. You want to make a name for yourself, to be a Legend, remembered long after you graduate. It’s not something that you tell your friends and family, or maybe even yourself, but it’s still there.
Come, let us make a name for ourselves!
Feeling a little unsettled by the aptness of that particular passage, I picked up my Bible instead and opened it to my scheduled reading (Philippians Chapter Two) and scanned the heading: Christ’s Example of Humility.
“…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.”
The commentary on the narrative of Babel continued: “The psalmist David saw the folly of it all and exclaimed, ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’ God must destroy the fruit of our labors while there is time to build something that lasts…In love, our God would lay low our treasured castles of self, only that He might build.”
My name is already being forgotten. Yours will be too, I’m afraid, despite best efforts to the contrary. Instead of investing in our own towers of glittering chrome, there’s a much better option– a much higher name, a name that truly won’t fade or be forgotten.
At the end of the day, or the end of breaks, or the end of the tournament, or the end of the competition season, or at the beginning of the school year, be asking yourself this question: have you honored His name, or have you honored your own? Let me tag that like a debater: have you honored His name, or have you honored your own?
Did you give your speeches to God, to break or not break? Did you pray before a debate round, or for another competitor? Did you see a novice in the hallway, alone, maybe as awkward as I was my first tournament, and go up and talk to them? These are the things that are investments in the right tower, the one that matters, the one that will last. People may not remember you, but they’ll remember seeing Christ in you.
In the end, it’s HIS name that will be remembered; it’s at HIS name that every knee will bow– the name of Jesus, the name that is above every name.