What’s in a name?

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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“Have you decided on a name yet?”

It is everyone’s favorite question after learning whether the arriving baby is a boy or a girl. Understandably so, however, the question always felt intimidating. Naming our child, for me, felt like a huge responsibility. I have always had a fascination with names. I like hearing the stories about how or why individuals were given the names that they were. I like knowing the meaning of names and seeing how someone’s name has helped shape who that person is. There are so many factors that go into deciding on a name. How does it sound? Do we name him after someone? Do we want a junior? Does someone we know already have that name? What if we pick a name and he grows up to hate it….and on and on. Working in youth ministry as long as Nick and I have, also added an additional layer of complication as each youth student we know colors their name.

Naming our son was something I took very seriously. I believe that our names carry great significance over our lives. God knows and cares about our names.  One of my favorite quotes regarding God’s attention to our name and care for us as individuals is from Jen Wilkin. She says, “God speaks to us of his attention to the individual. He sees us not as a teeming mass of humanity, but as individual names and faces and personalities, each with our own stories that play into the larger story of redemption…In the genealogies, God attests to his faithfulness to do what he says he will do—working through heroes and hucksters, all far from perfect. No plan of his can be thwarted. Each name is a blade of withered grass, but his eternal purposes endure. Every name points to our need of the One who bears the Name above all names. Every name, recorded and remembered by God, gives us assurance that our names are recorded and remembered by him as well…Our God is in the business of naming names.” That last line is my absolute favorite. “Our God is in the business of naming names.” This is what I wanted for our little one.

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Early on, after many vetoes and discussions, Nick and I had finally agreed on two names we both liked, Carson and Joshua. The new dilemma became which name do we choose? We spent a lot of time praying for wisdom on what to name our son. One night as we were talking and dreaming about the future after our son arrives, Nick asked what I thought about the name Benaiah. I did not immediately dislike the name but I also did not immediately love it. To be honest, I did not know much about the story of Benaiah in the Bible. The more I thought on the name, the more it intrigued me. I decided to do some research into the story of Benaiah.

Benaiah is most well known in the Bible for killing a lion in a pit on a snowy day. If you are curious, it can be found in 2 Samuel 23:20-23 or 1 Chronicles 11:22-25. He was part of King David’s “mighty men” and was placed in charge of King David’s bodyguard. Before he killed the lion, he was also credited with killing two sons of Ariel of Moab. The interesting thing about this is, some scholars believe there is some wordplay going on in the description of the story. Ariel, is similar to the Hebrew word for lion (the KJV translation says “lion-like men”) and essential Benaiah is credited for killing two men who were as strong as lions as well as killing an actual lion.  He was a great warrior and leader. He was loyal to King David and remained loyal to his family by helping secure Solomon as King and serving King Solomon.

The history on Benaiah was fascinating but it was the meaning of the name itself that caught my attention. From the day that Nick and I found out that I was pregnant, we began praying over the little growing life. We prayed that God would build our son, that God would make him healthy and whole, protect him from any of my funny heart issues and knit together his mind and body as he grows inside of me. We have not ceased praying this prayer. When I looked up the meaning of Benaiah, it means “made by God” or “The Lord has built” and I knew this is what we were to name our son.

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Any day now, Benaiah John Lallier will make his grand debut. As I anxiously count down the days and minutes, I dream of telling my son the story behind his name. I look forward to teaching him about our great God who knows and cares about his name, who knit him together and has a plan and purpose for his life. I pray he would come to know and love Jesus as his dad and I do and that he would choose to trust his life and future to Him. This is also my prayer for all of you. I don’t know all of your stories, how you feel about Jesus, how you feel about yourself, what you think of your future or your past. But, I do pray that in the midst of the life that has happened to you, you would learn about Jesus. Truly learn about Him. See for yourself in God’s word, his great attention to the individual, his plan for redemption and his outrageous love for his rebellious creation. God knows and cares about your name, and my encouragement for you would be to start exploring that thought.

With love,

MeganT


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