Two of my oldest and dearest friends are coming to visit tomorrow.  They probably wouldn’t appreciate me calling them “oldest,” but they have indeed known me longer than anyone in my life except family.  I met both of them when we were all 12 years old and still see them several times a year even though they both live in Texas. There is something extra special about “old” friends.  These two ladies have been through every major life transition with me.  They survived junior high with me, they heard about my first kiss, we can still tell you who started their periods first (sorry, guys, but that is a major life transition for us girls!!)  We cried on each other’s shoulders through many broken hearts, we stood by one another when each of us got married, we called each other first when our 8 collective babies were born.  We have called each other to account when our behavior wandered too far over the line and we have given honest feedback to one another on some very poor hair decisions along the way (you’ll be glad to know that we are all in a pretty good place with our hair these days 🙂  Bottom line, these ladies probably know me as well as anyone in the world.  When they see me, they see all the life changes that make me who I am today…the whole story, you could say.  Knowing all they know, they still love me!  I treasure their friendship and feel so blessed to still have them in my life.  Where else can you find that kind of history, that kind of steadfast love, that kind of deep knowing?

This week in bible study we learned a new name for God that speaks to that very question.  This name for God is only mentioned once in the bible, as far as I know.  It is found in Genesis 16 in the story of Hagar, the maidservant who is carrying Abram’s son Ishmael.  Sarai’s plan to “help” God fulfill His promise to Abram has backfired and things are going badly between Sarai and her maidservant, Hagar.  Hagar runs away and runs smack into the One True God.  After God reassured Hagar that her son will be blessed by Him, she calls Him El Roi, The God Who Sees Me.  El Roi, The God Who Sees ME!!

We have been learning several names for God in this bible study, but something about this one just struck me to the core.  The God Who Sees Me…what a concept!  This God, the one who saw a frightened, lonely, pregnant slave girl thousands of years ago, looks down on Chantilly, Virginia and sees this suburban homemaker today.  He saw me 41 years ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma when I was placed in my mother’s arms.  And He has seen me through all the crazy, all the mistakes, all the triumphs, all the joys in between…ALL of it!  And He sees the REAL me that others may not see…the one who feels nervous, or lonely, or misunderstood, or angry or embarrassed.  He sees me and He cares for me and He loves me in spite of my weaknesses, my doubts, my wanderings.  El Roi, The God Who Sees Me, the One who sees each of us in all our pain and joy and desparately wants a relationship with each of us. Isn’t being seen, REALLY seen, something for which many of us secretly yearn?

Can’t pass up the opportunity to share some special song lyrics that touch my heart and that came to mind when I learned about El Roi…the God of many names who has always seen me.  This is from Nicole Nordeman; the song is called “I Am.”

Pencil marks on a wall, I wasn’t always this tall
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed
You watched my team win
You watched my team lose
Watched when my bicycle went down again
And when I was weak, unable to speak
Still I could call You by name
And I said, Elbow Healer, Superhero
Come if You can
You said, I Am

Only sixteen, life is so mean
What kind of curfew is at 10pm?
You saw my mistakes
And watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I’d never love again
And when I was weak, unable to speak
Still I could call You by name
And I said Heartache Healer, Secret Keeper
Be my best friend
And you said, I Am

You saw me wear white by pale candlelight
I said forever to what lies ahead
Two kids and a dream, with kids that can scream
Too much it might seem when it is 2am
And when I am weak, unable to speak
Still I will call You by name
Shepherd, Savior, Pasture Maker
Hold onto my hand
You say, I Am

The winds of change and circumstance blow in and all around us
So we find a foothold that’s familiar
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer

When life had begun, I was woven and spun
You let the angels dance around the throne
And who can say when, but they’ll dance again
When I am free and finally headed home
I will be weak, unable to speak
Still I will call You by name
Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer
Comforter, Healer, my Redeemer
Lord and King, Beginning and the End

I Am
Yes, I Am