Friday, January 5, 2018

The Power of a Name

I used to keep a notebook of names that I wanted to give all 20 of my kids one day.

No joke.

The first time I remember writing down names was when I was about 9, and I remember revisiting that list even in college.  I'm not even sure where all of the names came from.  I think some were from movies, others from books, some were Biblical, and a few were from people I met – all were names that I just enjoyed hearing.  Although some of the names on the list changed over time, there were always a few that were my favorite go-to names I just knew I would be naming my children one day.
Little did I know the journey that God would take us on.  I had no idea that naming my children would become one of the most special things I would ever do, and that those names would look nothing like the ones from my list.

At the beginning of February, we lost our first child at 6 weeks.  I had a desire to pick a name as a way to remember and to make that child seem more "real", but I had no idea how we would pick a name since we didn’t even know if it was a boy or a girl. I was in a place of such deep grief that I didn’t want to taint the memory of our child by labeling him or her with a meaningless name from a silly list I made years prior. The loss of our first child showed me the pettiness of my list, and I told Seth that I wanted all of our children to have meaningful names – I just didn’t know what that looked like yet.
Well the all-loving God who created our precious child already had a name picked out. The day after we lost our child, I was reading Genesis 32 as part of my devotions.  This is the chapter where Jacob wrestled with God, and God graciously allowed him to live, but not without a permanent reminder of who He is.  Jacob named that place Penuel, which means “Face of God”, because He had seen the face of God there.  We are absolutely confident that our precious Penuel has seen the face of God, and we cried out to Him that we would also see His face in the midst of our heartache.

Then at the end of April, when our second child stopped growing around 10 weeks, God again pointed us towards a name.  The season we were in seemed hopeless, full of grief and despair.  All of my dreams of having children, and the dreams I had for my children, seemed like they may never be fulfilled.  The word Seth and I clung to was HOPE.  When it felt like there was none, we caught glimmers of hope from God.  Not a certainty that our house would one day be filled with children, but an assurance that He would use our story for His glory.  We had an assurance that He would not leave us, no matter the pain we endured.  We named our baby Jahleel, because it means to “HOPE in God”, or to “wait for God” – both of which were very appropriate for the heartache we were walking through.  Without God, there would have been no hope during those early days of mourning Penuel and Jahleel.

Fast-forward to the beginning of November…We were 18 weeks into our 3rd pregnancy, and just a few days away from finding out whether God was giving us a boy or a girl!  I had tried not to think about which one I thought it might be, because I just wanted it to be a surprise without getting my hopes up either way.  But in the days leading up to the appointment, God kept bringing the name Samuel to my mind…And on November 6th, we found out it was a BOY!  But we also found out that day that there were some concerns with our sweet boy’s growth. His long bones were all measuring short, and we were being sent to see a specialist.  The news was heavy that day, but we really didn’t have much information.  We wouldn’t know if it was anything serious until our follow-up with the specialist.

Seth and I standing in the valley of Elah
On my drive home from that appointment, God brought to mind the Valley of Elah – where David fought Goliath.  This had been our favorite place that we visited when we went to Israel the year before.  Seth and I were never really able to explain why this was our favorite place, and many people who have been to Israel or live there thought that it was odd.  It’s not even an actual tourist site, but it was the most memorable for us.  When God brought it to mind that day, I thought about how David had faced what must have been a HUGE fear in that valley.  He took on a challenge that everyone else refused.  David was just a small boy, but he allowed God to use him for His glory, despite his physical incapability or any fear he might have had.  From what the doctor said, we knew our little boy could possibly be facing some great challenges in life, and we wanted him to have a strong name to back that up.  We wanted him to be encouraged to see those challenges as avenues for God’s glory to be revealed.

Overlooking the Valley of Elah from the remains of the Israelite camp
Samuel means “asked of God”.  We asked God to fulfill the longing of our hearts for a child, and He granted our petition!

"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him."
           ~1 Samuel 1:27

David means “beloved”.  Samuel David is our beloved son, and a beloved gift from God.

Not only did God again provide us with the name that He had picked for our child, but He also did it in His perfect timing.  I never thought that I would be one to name a baby months before they were actually in my arms, but how special it is to have a name for our little son!  We are able to pray for him by name!  And we are able to pass that name on to others so that they can do the same.

Thank you to those of you who are praying for our little Samuel David 💙

This is His story, and it is all for His glory!

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