Names Matter

 
 Goodnight Moon   -              By: Margaret Wise Brown                   Illustrated By: Clement Hurd
“Nana, do you have any kids?”
 

I am wedged on the couch between Abigail, 4 1/2 and Paul Silas, 2 1/2.
We are reading a bedtime story. ‘Goodnight Moon’, no doubt; it is always ‘Goodnight Moon.’

“Well, Abi, I have two kids. One is your Auntie Leah and the other is your Papa.”

“Oh.” (Maybe she wanted to know if there was anyone else in the house to play with besides her Grandpa and I…)

I could tell by the sound of her voice  she had absolutely no idea what I just said.
Paul, of course, was oblivious; he is after all, only 2-ish.

(l to r) Hanan, Peter, Abigail and Paul
 

My son Aaron will be 36 today.  He actually has 5 children (four of whom are pictured above.)
 
When I was pregnant with him back in the day, ultrasounds were unheard of and doctors only ordered them if complications were suspected.  So knowing a baby’s sex ahead of time was out of the question.
  
At any rate, we were hoping for a boy–I wanted to name him after my husband’s father Paul.  So when he was born it was ‘Aaron Paul.’
I don’t recall that I spent any amount of time seeking God in fervent prayer about it.
It just came to me. (or so I thought).

Three years later we were blessed with a girl.  While I was pregnant, the name ‘Leah Michelle’ just sort of dropped into my heart. There was no ‘thus saith the Lord about it’; I just liked the way the names went together.

Aaron, Leah and their father, comparing Smartphones

As I watch the way my children have grown into their names to become who they are it is astonishing to me. Even though we weren’t intently purposeful about the process it is clear God had them in mind long before we ever did. Both of them match their biblical counterparts perfectly.

Aaron and his lovely wife Courtney’s 5 children are, in birth order: 
Hanan–from the Hebrew ‘to entreat grace’. Hanan was one of David’s mighty men.
                  (yep, that’s Hanan. 9 1/2 years old.  Gracious and strong)
Peter–the Rock.  Stubborn, impulsive, strong.  (You remember Peter?)
                  (Fits this Peter to a ‘T.’)
Abigail–‘the Father’s joy’ from the Hebrew (and she is!)
               Her middle name is Sophia–(Greek)’wisdom’.  She is very smart….truly.
Paul–from the Greek ‘Lucanus’–‘little’. Small but mighty, like the Apostle Paul.
                   (well, he is now. He is also a clown and a charmer and wonderful with   
                   strangers…yes, that sounds like a Paul to me.)
Luke….well, Luke is only 10 months old, so time will tell how he grows into his name.
My concordance says, ‘Greek, a Christian.’ Luke’s middle name is Ezra, for the prophet who encouraged the Jewish people to return to God. Yes God, may it be so of this Luke Ezra.

So–named on purpose, becoming who they are, who the Father had in mind.  I can see God’s hand on my grandchildren, my children and even on me.

My given name is Joanna.  Growing up it was my ‘in trouble’ name–“Joanna Lee!”–as I recall.

Abigail and Paul ‘dancing’ with their Nana and Grandpa

I was never able to ask my mother who I was named after; she died when I was young and raising my own children.  She lived 5 hours away and my conversations with her were few and far between.

I became a Christian when I was 19 and it wasn’t until I was forty years old and my mother had been gone several years that I saw my name in the Bible. I was reading the book of Luke and there it was. Twice.

Joanna ‘Whom Jehovah has graciously given.’ The wife of Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee (Luke 8:3). She was one of the women who ministered to our Lord, and to whom he appeared after his resurrection Luke 24:10).

I was amazed.  Joanna was one of Jesus’ followers.  So was I.

After all these years it was clear God had His hand on me from the very beginning, naming me even though my own mother didn’t know why. 

He knew me from the start, knew I would be one of His kids.

I’m so glad I heard Him calling my name.