A name that would steer a life. A name they would welcome with the syllables they use. A name that reflects the high value of life. A name that would speak back to God the sheer gift He gave me in returning to Asia and of this unexpected moment. A name that would point a child, and maybe a family, to God.
Hannah. The root of my own daughter's name, JoHanna. In the swirl of my thoughts, the Lord shone a light on its meaning, "God's gracious gift." Hannah.
"Hannah," I said. "It means God's gracious gift."
My friend translated the choice, and the all repeated "Hannah" with nodding and smiles. It fit well on their tongues. The young mother Deborah's eyes were happy. And then the grandma told me what I could not have known. Deborah had not conceived this child easily. She had hoped and waited, without having a child planted in her womb. She had longed for a baby, a sign of blessing on a marriage in so many "tribes" of today, even for young brides. But before she could bear a child, her husband left for the capital, hours away, to find a job and send money home for the large family in the small hut by the gray stream that cuts through the bamboo. A single rare visit was planned, so Deborah could be with her young husband. Two days together.
Only two days, but Deborah conceived. As the weeks passed, it had become evident that God had graciously given her a gift. She was pregnant, and she delivered a healthy baby girl who was, indeed, God's gift. Hannah.
Pictures were to be taken, and Deborah placed the undiapered, tiny, damp body of her gracious gift into my arms. I prayed for her life and her future, that God would use this Hannah to be a light in a great darkness, as He had done with the child of a mother named Hannah so long ago.
It was my big chance to give a name. My big chance to add to the legacy given to a child in a tribal village where God's truth is changing lives. It was my big chance, and God chose a name that will forever remind the people across the narrow slats of bamboo that the child there is "God's gracious gift" and that His Son is His gracious gift to them all.
Long ago, the Hannah of the Bible prayed:
"For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD." 1 Samuel 1:27- 28.
Would you pray with me for the little brown Hannah in the crowded house, not yet a month old? Pray for her physical health, her protection, and for her heart to turn to Jesus at a young age, that she would be "lent ... to the LORD" to reach her people?
I'm so glad I crossed the bridge. Is there a bridge God wants you to cross today?