Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Reason Behind a Name

Micah, Noah, and (now) Hannah. What provoked us to give our children these names? Well, it’s something that I’ve thought about a lot, but have never really put down on paper before. So, I’ve got to start from the beginning, I guess.

Names are important. They always have been, and they always will be. As you live and grow you make your name mean something by how you conduct yourself through life. But there is also the idea that the name that you give to your children is either in tribute to someone who has gone before or it is a guide or description of the manner or characteristics that you want your child to have. When it has come to my part in deciding what our children’s names will be, I have been thinking along the lines of truths or characteristics that I would love my children to embody.

Micah James“Who is Like Yahweh”

When we found out that were pregnant with our first child, we had only been married for about six months and we were ecstatic, nervous, scared, and unprepared. But when it came down to picking a boy name (we have picked out both a boy and a girl name for each of our children to be prepared), we immediately thought of Bible names. The first “veto” came to the name John. John would be an appropriate and great name to give to a child. John the apostle was a “son of thunder” and the beloved apostle who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote so heavily about love and loving God. But, John Johnson just doesn’t sound good. I’ve heard and seen too many rhyming first and last names.

So I expanded whatever flimsy parameters there were in my thinking, and I came up empty. But then I was reading my Bible and I read the following Scripture passage,

6 With what shall I come to the LORD {And} bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? 7 Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn {for} my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6-8)

That was it. This was my prayer for my first born. I want and desire for my children to act justly and rightly, to be kind and merciful, but overall to walk humbly with their Lord, Jesus Christ.

I can’t exactly remember, but I think that it took a bit of convincing (not too much) to persuade my wife on this name. But now we had to figure out a good middle name for this boy. A big factor with middle names was that the two had to sound good together. Actually, one of the tests to see how they sound and how they fit together was to think about what it would sound like to call your child when they were in trouble. You know what I mean? Just think about the times when you got in trouble as a child and a parent, grandparent, or other adult in authority over you used both your first and middle names (they sometimes even throw in the last name, and then you know that you’re really in trouble) to get your attention. As much as I would like to take credit for this idea (because it’s a good test), I cannot. My beloved wife came up with and introduced me to this test.

To make a long story short, we ended up with the middle name of James. It is in this wonderful book where the Spirit inspired James to combat an easy-believism type of faith in the early church where people claimed to be born again, but didn’t have the fruits of love and good deeds. And James was given inspiration to condemn that type of attitude with the statement, “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)
Holy Father God,

I pray that you would draw Micah to yourself, even now, and that You would cause him to be born again at a young age. I pray that you would keep him healthy and strong, and help him to grow up to be a man who will walk humbly before you, act lovingly and justly to his neighbors, and who would have a deep and true faith that is living and active.

By Your grace alone, may You cause it to happen.

Amen.

Noah Luke“Rest”

With Noah, I must admit I was predisposed to this name from very early on. We were in the middle of studying both epistles of Peter, and there was one passage in those two books that stuck out to me that I had not noticed before.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;” (2 Peter 2:4-6)

I had always known the story of Noah and the Ark, but I had never really thought of Noah as “a preacher of righteousness” until teaching through this book. The Lord had been confirming in my heart and conforming my attitude and desires more to be a preacher myself, and I could not think of anything that would make me more proud than to have a son who would be a preacher of the righteousness of Christ. That’s how we came up with Noah.

When we settled on Noah as a first name, we began the process of determining a middle name for him. About five minutes into the process, I busted out laughing. My perplexed wife asked me what was going on and I told her that I had just thought of the middle name that we wouldn’t give to our son. It was the name of a biblical character who is described as being “righteous” too, but for some reason it just didn’t fit. The name that was nixed: Lot. Why, you ask? Well, just say the names out loud. Noah Lot. Exactly, I don’t want to encourage my children to be sassy, but I believe the reason that I gave was that I didn’t want to give him a name that would “make him bleed a lot” (i.e. get beat up) as a kid.

We went with Luke because it sounded good, and it was a nice New Testament name too. There wasn’t a specific passage or theme from Luke’s writings that was influential in picking this name, but it was to show that his name is unapologetically one with strong Christian overtones.

Holy God,

I pray that you will save Noah and, if it be Your will, to do so while he is young. I pray that you will cause him to grow up to be a man who truly lives righteously and preaches righteousness, whether it is from a pulpit, a street corner, or wherever. May you burden his heart with a passion for You and Your glory. May You keep him healthy and strong, and make him wise.

By Your grace alone,

Amen.

Hannah Grace“Grace”

Little Hannah; precious little baby girl. Well, today is her birthday, and wow, what a joy it is to have the privilege of raising a daughter. When we set out to try and figure out a name for our daughter, we ran through a list of options and possibilities, but we didn’t get settled on one right away. Actually, it was her middle name, Grace, that I lobbied for hardest in the beginning. Why Grace? Well, in truth, it was a struggle between Grace and Faith, but eventually Grace won out (there’s a sermon in that statement some where, I just know it). But, quite frankly, regardless of the books and subjects that I have studied in the past five years or so, it has been the truth of God’s amazing and wonderful grace that has made the biggest impression on me and on my life.

Once we had determined that her middle name would be Grace, we started brainstorming for first names. I don’t remember the exact order of things, but we arrived at the name Hannah. I do remember a sermon on Hannah, the Prophet Samuel’s mother, by John MacArthur, and I was very impressed with her character. Then I read the Scripture, and I was again more impressed with her devotion to God.

1 Then Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD, My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation. 2 " There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.” (2 Samuel 2:1-2)


My hope and prayer is that Hannah will grow up to love the Lord, to serve Him faithfully, and, like her namesake, to rejoice in His salvation! For salvation is all of grace, and it is grace I earnestly desire for Him to show to my little Grace, my Hannah Grace.

Awesome Father God,

I pray that you would give me the strength to persevere in my duties of a father to my daughter. I pray that you would give me the patience and gentleness to deal with her in an individual way that will encourage her to be godly and humble and loving. May you grace me with the wisdom to teach, live, act, and play in such a way that will give her a correct understanding and view of herself as a girl and, later, as a woman. May the relationship that we cultivate between the two of us be one that will only strengthen her and not weaken her. Oh Lord, soften her heart to the message of your gospel, to the saving message that You offer. I pray that you would give her a soft heart that is tender to Your Word. May You cause her to come to an understanding of her sin and Your holiness, and may Your Spirit then make her born again.

May I be a steadfast and faithful father, not taking lightly the responsibility that You have placed before me. In my weakness, You are strong…be strong in the raising of my sons and my daughter.

Amen.


1 comment:

Tobin said...

Congratulations EJ and Steph! We'll look forward to meeting the newest addition to your family next time we're in the US.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson