Monday, June 6, 2016

What's in a Name (Part 1)

What is the coolest thing you have ever done?  I imagine bungee jumping would be at the top of the list for some, but not for me.  I am way too afraid of heights—good thing I was never a contestant on the Bachelor!  Not backpacking across Europe either... at least not yet.  Undoubtedly, the most exciting thing I have ever done is to name another human being.  Hands down.  It is a truly profound and special experience— it feels like walking on holy ground.  My heart bursts a little when I reflect on having been blessed with this exhilarating privilege five times!  That is probably one of the reasons we have what many would consider a good number of children.  It’s kind of addictive!

Whether a family name, biblically significant name, or name you just LOVE, choosing first and middle names for someone is a great honor and responsibility (I hear there’s a similar warmth and pride in naming pets, cars, businesses, or culinary masterpieces).  I love hearing the names my friends come up with, because each name they bestow can capture their personalities and their hopes for their children so well!   Of course, some names baffle me, usually those of celebrity children or the redundant first and last name, i.e. William Williams. But, I digress.

It still gives me a thrill to speak each of our son’s full names out loud—the products of careful thought, much prayer, and many conversations in the car with Meade.  These children were loved before they drew their first breaths. 

Here are a few pictures of our “ten names,” our pile of boys we get to love and treasure:

John Meade (left) and William Warren 


Baby Daniel Hightower (who is 5 years old TODAY!)

Baby Andrew Kellam

 October, 2015.  Michael is 1 month old.

Michael Chester at 6 months

I imagine one reason that naming children is so very special and even feels sacred is that, in this act, we are not only reflecting our Creator by imitating His work in creating us and instilling worth to us, but we are also fulfilling His command to Adam and Eve to name and steward every living creature.  We are leaning into God’s intended purpose for us before sin and brokenness entered the world.  It is redemptive and humanizing to name and call forth.

What’s more, Romans 8 further develops our restoration in that God our Father adopts us, giving us true family as His heirs and co-heirs with his Son, Jesus Christ.  As “Christ-ians,” or “Christ followers” as a dear mentor likes to call us, we now carry our Lord’s name, despite the many ways we fall short and mar it.  Christ becomes our covering, our forgiveness, our salvation, and our worth. We have been brought into the fold.  We belong. 

The earthly picture of adoption demonstrates this truth so well. Recently, our dear friends Megan and Dave adopted a precious 3 year old from China.  Previously, this little boy had two different names, a Chinese name given by his orphanage and a name that was arbitrarily assigned to his file by the adoption network.  However, once this child was brought into the Rathbone family, he was not only given his father’s name, David, and their last name but also his very own name, Elijah.  This name was lovingly selected for him, just as names had been prayerfully chosen for their biological children.  This name, Elijah David Rathbone, forever binds this once family-less child with his true earthly family— the family that God had picked out for this little one before he was ever conceived halfway around the world or a reality for Megan and Dave.  

The Rathbone Children 
There is certainly power in a name; this little boy has been given the confidence and spirit of sonship, right along with his siblings, Noah, Emma, and Micah  (I love how each child’s name ends with the same “ah” sound… yet another sweet stamp of Elijah’s full status as a member of the Rathbone family). 

Can you believe this is how God views us?  Because of His great love, we can come to Him and belong to Him like His Son Jesus, confident and unashamed. We have been given “the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent… but born of God” (John 1:12-13).  

What do you need to name and call forth in this season?  Moreover, how do you need to alter the way you view yourself in light of the fact that you are a beloved, chosen child of God?  He is your worth.  Your covering.  You belong.

Stay tuned for Part 2…

Click here to read more about the Rathbones' journey.

Image courtesy of