"So, is that where his middle name came from?"
My daughter asked me after I explained to her that she may be receiving some facebook/email messages from relatives she's never met. People, I haven't seen in oh sooooo many years. Relatives from my mother's side of the family, last name Russell.
My reply: "Yes, that is exactly why your brother has Russell as a middle name!"
He was named after my grandfather, my mom's family name. I wanted some evidence of my grandfather's family/legacy to remain in my family in future years. My daughter didn't remember ever knowing this. So that led me to wonder if our son remembered why he had been given that name. Since it was his birthday, I thought, what better time than now to ask him to indulge me a few minutes as I re-acquaint him with the memory of his namesake.
Sadly, I do not have lots of specific memories from childhood. But, I do remember being at my grandparents house and seeing my grandfather leaning over his Bible to read it at the dining room table. He would also open the paper and cut out the religious columns with their verses of the day and short writings. The lasting impressions of my grandfather are that I felt a calm, serene, peace and comfort when in his presence. In childlikeness, I think I associated those feelings with the knowledge that I believed he knew God because he read His Bible. And from writings in his Bible, and my mom's accounts, he prayed. I believe he prayed for his family.
And I believe his prayers were answered one day in my life.
A little over 28 years ago I found myself going down a path I had sworn early on in life that I wouldn't follow. It was a path including drunkeness and heading to divorce. A pattern that had been commonplace and seemingly the norm in everyone's life around me as I grew up. A path that I had once determined I would not go down. Yet, there I was going the same way, until one day, sitting alone in the apartment where I lived, I felt this still small voice so clear and vivid in my soul that it stopped me long enough to allow reality to come crashing in. "Look at where you are and what you are doing! Is this really the way you want to go?"
NO! NO!! AND NO!!! I saw the reality of where I was headed and immediately set foot to change course!
Now, you can laugh at me if you will, but I truly believe that prayers of my grandfather, stored up for just such a time, had been let loose to do their work. They found their mark and the weight of them came barreling down upon me to have just the effect intended. To stop this prodigal in her steps and turn her back to the Father, the God, whom she had turned away from at some point along the way.
So, what's in a name? Giving the name Russell to our son as part of his name was a 'living' memorial to my grandfather and to the goodness and grace of God.
God, prompted by those long ago prayers of my grandfather, spoke to the heart of his granddaughter, and she listened. Her course changed. No more drinking, no divorce. A marriage was salvaged, producing a beautiful baby boy with copper top hair, who has grown into a good,strong,fine young man.
That is the story behind a name, the story behind our son's middle name. That is how a grandfather's family legacy/name was to be carried on through a great-grandson.
Perhaps one day my prayers, or yours, may do the same for someone else. May they be used to one day help another prodigal see the light. May the Lord be prompted to speak to them as well with the same words: "Look at where you are and what you are doing! Is this really the way you want to go?" And may that one have the courage to face reality and change course.
You can trust the one who died for you. Turn to Him. He's waiting for you.
There is a God who hears and answers prayers.
"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their prayer," I Peter 3:12
"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16b