• 64°
Hartselle Enquirer

Mistaken identity

By A.Ray Lee


Have you ever been mistaken for someone else?  Do you have a “look-alike”, one who could pass as your sibling? If so you know the results can be comical or annoying. Even similar names can cause a great deal of confusion.  

Recently a good friend who has known me all my adult life said he was glad to see me for when he had opened the paper to the obituary page a picture was there which at first glance he had thought was of me. Two days later a new friend told me the same thing. I assured each of them I was alive and kicking even if it were not very high. 

Sometimes mistaken identities can lead to harmless results as in the case of one who grew tired of telling people he could not help them with their problems because he was not Brother Lee. Others can be more serious. There was a period of ten or fifteen years when credit agencies both local and from Nashville to Birmingham had my name confused with someone I did not know.  How they had gotten my phone number I do not know. There had been harassing phone calls and even visits demanding that I pay up. Some even went so far as refusing to accept my word and identifying documents as proof that I was not the man they were looking for. 

So I was not surprised while attending a three-day conference in Atlanta when Effie came home from school and found a disturbing message on the answering machine from the Sheriff’s chief deputy. The essence of the message was my cows had been out for three days running up and down the road, roaming over the neighbors’ property, and leaving calling cards at their front doors. They were sick of it and he was tired of the calls he was receiving. His parting words sounded like a threat when he demanded I get my cows back in the fence and keep them there. Effie thought the unspoken message was “or else”.  

The next week the deputy was attending a funeral I was conducting giving me an opportunity to speak with him briefly. I knew the whole incident was over mistaken identity, but I felt a certain satisfaction when I told him I had not owned a cow since I had a show heifer as a 4H club project in my early teenage years so the cows were not mine. Then with tongue in cheek, I added it would have been no surprise if he had called about straying sheep for I did have some errant church members who needed to be brought back into the fold. 

Others may be confused as to our identity because of physical resemblances and appearances. There is a set of identical twins I have known since we were youth and to this day I can’t tell them apart. When I meet one of them I address her by the names of each. To me, it is a marvel how their mother knew which was which. But even though one looks like a carbon copy of the other, the two are different and like all are known individually by the divine creator. There is no mistaken identity with him. He knows us for each has been crafted by his will. He knows who we are and has our address. 

In the beautiful Psalm 139 David writes, “O Lord, thou hast known me …and art acquainted with all my ways. I will praise thee: for I am wonderfully made; my substance was not hid from thee. Whither shall I go from thy spirit or presence? If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the utter most parts, thou art there.”