Over the course of the past few months, my three roommates and I have all gotten hooked on the 1980s sitcom Cheers. At any given moment, you will find at least one of us binge watching the show somewhere in our house, laughing out loud at the gang’s latest antics and probably singing along to the catchy theme song.

If you’ve never seen or heard of Cheers, I can almost guarantee that you’ve heard the theme song, especially the chorus:

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

So much security and comfort can be found in someone knowing your name, in such a simple recognition. We all crave that sense of belonging, but it can be hard to come by on earth where allowing yourself to be truly known can lead to tremendous pain and rejection. But at the same time, the fear of being anonymous and overlooked can be debilitating.

But in his new book, Your God Is Too Glorious, Chad Bird (also one of our NYC conference speakers) offers some hope. He reminds us of the one Person who perfectly knows, accepts, and loves us, of the one Person who lovingly calls our bluff on our attempts to gain the attention of others in order that we might find that security and acceptance in our identity as His sons and daughters.

As I drive to church to attend the All Saints’ Day service, I know and believe all this [that God never forgets us]. And at the same time I doubt and disbelieve it.

As good as it sounds, it also sounds too good to be true. Around seven billion people populate our world. Who am I to think that even an all-powerful God notices me among so many? The only chance I have of being known is to do something that catches the eye of my Lord.

As I stare out the window at the brown grass and multicolored trees, I see in both these icons of autumn what so often determines the decisions I make. The dying grass is emblematic not only of the brevity of my life but how dull and colorless it usually is. I get up, go to work, come home, crawl into bed, then repeat it all the next day. A nagging sense of unaccomplishment bedevils me. A brown grass kind of existence over which hangs a lackluster cloud of anonymity.

So out of a looming sense that I must do something that sets me apart, that makes me special, I strive to add some flash, some vibrancy, to my life. What I need are more chromatic trees in the drab lawn of my bio. A dab of fame. A trophy case I can display. Anything that will catch the eye of others—and God—and make them say, ‘Now there’s a guy who’s made a name for himself.’ […]

The phobia of anonymity is the breeding ground of projects that we think will do us good, but God knows will only engender harm. He’s not a bully on the beach who kicks over our sand castles. He’s a father who sees below the surface to what really fuels our efforts. We want to be known. To be noticed. To be more than one of those countless faces that blur past on the fast-moving subway of human existence. So even while he frustrates our tower-building plans, he reaches out in love to address the root of the problem.

He reminds us, again and again, that all efforts to make a name for ourselves are not only in vain but are totally unnecessary. He is at work transforming our minds so that, first of all, we see our anonymity not as a phobia but a mirage. He not only knowns us and calls us by name, he outdoes himself by keeping a running tally on how many hairs are on our heads (Matt. 10:30). He knows the narratives embedded within our every scar. Even before the moment of our conception, in his book the days of our life story were ‘written, every one of them, the days that were formed for [us], when as yet there was none of them’ (Ps. 139:16). We are far from being unknown by the creator. He knows our story better than we know it ourselves. We are all household names in heaven.”