The Savior of Israel1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
For the longest time, this has been one of my top favorite passages of the Bible. It holds such promise, such hope, such comfort. It speaks of our identities as ones who were and are created, formed, ransomed, called, accompanied, protected, saved. I often find myself proclaiming these words over those I love when praying for them, and claiming them as true for myself during times of crisis. I have always especially liked the idea that we are called by name and told by the Lord, "You are MINE." Doesn't that feel so good?
You may be thinking, "Hold it, I thought this was a baby blog, quit preaching!" Well, I promise, this is relevant. Hold your horses.
So, the news is out: It's a GIRL!! Hooray! AND she has a name, but before we get to that, let me tell you a little story...
A few years ago, our dear friend Isaac came up to me at the Gathering and said, "Kels, I've got a book you need to read." You see, Isaac and I have this deal. He reads lots and lots of books, and then he tells me the ones that are worth plowing through. You see, he has this capacity for reading and absorbing information that is somewhat legendary. I do not have that capacity. I don't have even one ounce of desire to trudge through a bunch of verbose musings just to pull out the one sentence that makes the book "worth reading." That's what Isaac is for in my life...among other things...like Chik-fil-a adventures. But I digress.
Anyway, despite this lack of motivation to read for the sake of reading, I do consider myself a reader, a book-lover, and a reasonably literate person. So, with all this in mind, Isaac reads and reads and reads and then I read the 1 out of the 100s he's read that he thinks is really worth my time. So far, this little system has worked out beautifully. Through it, I have enjoyed such masterpieces as Annie Dillard's Teaching a Stone to Talk, G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, Buechner's Telling the Truth, and, probably most-appreciated, Marilynn Robinson's Gilead. The last of which is extremely relevant to this story.
As Eric and I talked about names for our baby we had a few we kept coming back to that had that "almost, but not quite" feeling. Lily was one of those names. We loved the sound of it, the sweetness of it, the classic and traditional feel it had. However, my students seemed to be pouring into my first-grade classroom all announcing that their younger sisters were named Lily and, if you'll recall, one of my rules (see previous blog post for our ridiculous rules for child-naming) was that we would not name our child a name that was really common among her peers. So, although we loved the name, Lily got kicked to the curb and we kept brainstorming.
Then, I picked up the sort-of sequel to Gilead. Home. And as I read, I came across the name of a character that I had loved from Gilead - the wife of the narrator. In Home, I learned that her name was Lila. (Actually, Amy G. informed me that her name is revealed in one conversation in Gilead, which I had missed.) Anyway, I read the name Lila, realized it was the name of this character I loved and began repeating the name to myself, trying it out. Later, I mentioned it to Eric and he seemed to like it, too. It was almost Lily, but not as common. So, I put it to the next test and looked up the meaning on Babynames.com. That sealed the deal. Here's what I saw:
The meaning of the name Lila is Lilac Tree
The origin of the name Lila is Persian
Notes: Also a Hebrew name, meaning 'you are mine'.
Did you notice that last part? In Hebrew, the name Lila means "you are mine." As I read those words on my computer screen, that passage in Isaiah started running through my mind, "I have called you by name, you are mine." Then, I saw in my mind the words "you are mine" being replaced by a single word that held the meaning of those three words: "I have called you by name, LILA."
And MAN, if that's not the alpha prayer of all my prayers I have for my baby girl - that she would know the One who knows her by name, who calls her, who ransoms her, who saves her, who comforts her, who walks alongside her through floods and fire, who is forming her as I type, as you read. That she would hear him whisper deep in her heart, "I know your name. YOU ARE MINE." That's all I really want for my daughter. And now tears are spilling out of my eyes because, as I type this, she's kicking me (right in the bladder, thanks Babe) and I am overwhelmed with the desperate desire for her to know her true identity. So, Lila Josephine, know this: the One who created you has chosen your name; He has called you by name and you belong to Him. So says the Bible and your mommy. So it must be true.