Choosing a name for our “little one” was a special privilege for Valerie and me. More than just a name that sounded pretty, we wanted a name that would convey meaning and give a sense of purpose to the little life entrusted to our care.
Abigail — My father’s joy
The name Abigail is of Hebrew origin, and comes from the word awb which means father (like Abba Father), and gheel which means great joy or exaltation (literally, to spin around in ecstatic joy). Together they have the idea of a child bringing great joy to a father.
As a boy growing up in the Waller home, one of my most treasured memories is that of sensing my father’s approval. To see my dad smile, place his hand on my shoulder, and hear him say that he was proud of me meant the world to me. I felt like I could face just about anything in life as long as I had the simple confidence that I was bringing joy to my father.
I believe that every person is born with a deep desire for their father’s approval. We find this even in the life of our Savior Jesus Christ. At key points in His earthly ministry, you find recorded those affirming words from His Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” How those human emotions must have swelled in the heart of our Lord to hear those words! And what a powerful opportunity and responsibility for us as fathers!
It is our prayer that Abigail will grow to live a life that brings joy to her father. Proverbs tells us that “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” May our little Abigail be trained up in the ways of the Lord, so that her heart may be one that delights in bringing joy to her father. May the approval that she senses from her earthly father in those early years be just a foretaste of the even more important approval of her Heavenly Father, and may her life be guided by the desire to bring joy to her Heavenly Father.
Renee — Born again
Abigail’s middle name expresses our desire that she would one day place her faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our daughter was born physically on September 6th, 2013, but in John chapter 3, Jesus talks of another kind of birth. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Nicodemus was understandably bewildered by this concept of being born again, but Jesus was making a very important distinction between these two “births”. The perspective of most Jews in that day was that they were God’s people by virtue of being physical descendents of Abraham. Jesus pointed out that while they were born of the flesh (Abraham’s children), there was a spiritual birth that had to take place for a person to become a true child of God.
It is from this context that the passage goes on to one of the most familiar verses in all of the Bible, where Jesus describes precisely how a person is born of the Spirit. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Unlike a physical birth, a spiritual birth requires action on our part. We must believe in Jesus Christ, accepting His death as the just payment for our sin, and trusting exclusively in His righteousness (not our own), as the basis of our relationship with God.
The beautiful thing about this spiritual birth Jesus describes is that it is offered to anyone, not just the physical children of Abraham. This is the fulfillment of what we find in God’s original promise to Abraham thousands of years before, that “…in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” This opportunity to become God’s child is not something we can do for someone else. We must personally make that choice for ourselves. Valerie and I have made that choice, and we pray that as our little Abigail grows in understanding, she will also make that decision to put her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and be born again.