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Roll Call

by Tim O'Hearn

All through high school and college the first thing that happened in any of my classes was roll call. Throughout a career in the Navy, every work or duty day started with a roll call. Most of the time it was to make sure that everyone who was supposed to be there was there. Some of the time, particularly in classes, it was also to make sure that anyone who wasn't supposed to be there didn't stay. Colleges especially don't like people to audit classes without paying at least a small fee.

The old song, "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder (I'll Be There)" brings up memories of a lifetime of roll calls. The song is based on Revelation 20:11-15:

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

It sure looks like some of the classroom scenes of my youth. You walk in and sit down and the teacher says, "Class, get out your books." Then another book is opened, the grade book. The teacher calls out the names in the book and you answer, "Here." People have nightmares where they show up in a class and their name is not called. Then they realize they are in the wrong class.

One of my nightmares (or is it daymares since I never actually dreamed it, just dread it) is that I will show up at this final classroom scene. I will sit down and open my books, the Old and New Testaments, and the Teacher will open his other book. He calls out the names in His book, and at the end of the list I find my name is not there. It's "finals" day, I have been sitting through the class for my whole life, and I find that the teacher doesn't recognize me as a class member.

It's a scary thought, since it is a required class for graduation. I don't have an excuse for not being in the roll book because the Teacher's son offered to pay my tuition. Then I realize that a lot of other people could have been in the class, but didn't take advantage of the offer either. They sat through class, but don't get credit because they didn't accept the tuition payment.

I don't want that to be the scene at the last day. And it need not be. Jesus has paid my tuition. "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God." (1 Cor 7:23-24) When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there. And my name will be called. May you also be recognized as part of the class.