A few weekends ago, while Adam was away at a youth retreat, I decided to have a movie night at home with my boys. Isaiah had never seen “The Incredibles” so we borrowed it from a friend, popped our popcorn, drank our hot chocolate, and my little men and I watched our movie while snuggled under blankets on the couch.
Okay, Isaiah and I watched it. Toby gave up on the movie as soon as the popcorn was gone and spent the rest of the time climbing on and off the couch, rolling around on the floor, emptying the toy box, and dancing for his shadow on the wall.
Isaiah, on the other hand, LOVED it. The action. The danger. The excitement. The rescue. He literally bounced up and down for the last 30 minutes of the movie.
That weekend being a combination of Daddy being away, Mommy being an exhausted pregnant lady, and the presence of another polar vortex, Isaiah watched “The Incredibles” 3 times in 3 days. Since then my boy has been obsessed with these super heroes.
We’ve looked at their pictures, made our own costumes, and drawn the characters on lunch box napkins. But we’ve also talked a lot about our Ultimate Super Hero. Our perfect, good, and final Rescuer. The One God graciously gave to pay the penalty for our sin and through Whom we have received adoption as sons (Galatians 1:4).
Our Isaiah’s name literally means “God is our salvation” or, according to the Jesus Story Book Bible, “God to the rescue!“
After our three day Incredibles marathon, we took Isaiah along for our ultrasound for Johnson baby #4. It didn’t take long to find out that God was blessing us with another sweet baby BOY! We were mesmerized by his beautiful heart beat, watched him suck on his little fingers, and we counted his tiny toes.
And in my head began the name game for this next little miracle…
We’ve always liked our children’s names to have meaning, significance to what God had been teaching us, and character traits that we could pray for our boys. We hadn’t settled on a name for this 3rd boy yet and asked for Isaiah’s thoughts on our way home…
“I want to name him Jack-Jack like on The Incredibles!”
We laughed and went back to our thoughts. There really wasn’t anything that stood out to us yet.
We’ve felt like the past few years have been a new discovery of what grace really looks like and how God has applied it to our lives. We’ve been striving to breathe deeply of God’s grace, drinking in it’s richness. We’ve even asked you all to pray, from the beginning of this pregnancy, that we would see this pregnancy as grace, regardless of it’s outcome.
But that didn’t seem to help us out in our name game. I told Adam in the car that day that I wished there was a boy name that meant “grace”…
Grace (charis): refers to God freely extending Himself, His favor, kindness, and grace reaching (inclining) to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them.
That would be an easy winner.
I shrugged and prayed that we’d find something else.
The next afternoon, I spent Toby’s nap time searching my Bible and going through lists of Bible names. There were some that I liked, but nothing felt “right”.
That night, after the boys went to bed, Adam and I planted ourselves on the couch to read and talk. Eventually I pulled out the laptop to continue our name search. Still, between the two of us, we came up empty.
We were having fun researching our family and friends’ names when I decided to look up Isaiah’s Incredibles “Jack-Jack” suggestion.
I stopped in my tracks.
“Um, Adam? Guess what ‘Jack’ means…it means “God is gracious“.
God is gracious – full of GRACE.
It wasn’t at all what we expected or were looking for, but it sure seemed perfect for us. (Aside from the fact that Jack Johnson was already a popular folk-rock singer…but some of his songs had been our go-to to soothe sleepy, grumpy boys on long road trips, so sharing a name with him wouldn’t be so bad, right? ;-))
Jack also happens to be the name of one of our best friends. A friend that knows, loves, and understands my husband better than almost any other. A friend that drove the whole way from Chicago to be with us after our baby died. A friend that makes us laugh and challenges us to think and makes us want to love both Jesus and others more deeply. A friend that is striving to figure out what it looks like to daily live out the Gospel. All qualities of which we would love to pray for our boy.
It seemed a fitting addition for this trio of boys that we pray live their lives to point others to a realization of Who our God is…
Isaiah: God is our salvation
Jack: God is gracious
As we kept talking about names and thought back over the past year, another defining moment for us came from an older mentor of Adam’s from our church. Adam had been meeting with him for accountability and counsel during a particularly difficult season of ministry. I had watched Adam undergo some intense criticism from others, so this man’s counsel, sharpening, and affirmation of my husband blessed my heart deeply. One day I emailed him to thank him for intentionally pouring into my Adam’s life and this is what he included in his response…
“The scripture that came to my mind as Adam and I talked, was the one where Jesus was calling his disciples and when He saw Nathanael coming He said ‘here comes a man who is without guile.’ Adam is such a man.”
A man who is without deceit.
I’ve studied the passage that Adam’s mentor was referring to and have begun to realize the depth of his insight. John 1 talks about Jesus calling his disciples. Phillip comes to Nathanael and tells him about this Jesus he had just met. Nathanael’s reply was “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, the Rescuer’s response was…
“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
– John 1:47-49
Matthew Henry’s Commentary says this…
In Nathanael there was no guile. His profession was not hypocritical. He was not a dissembler, nor dishonest; he was a sound character, a really upright, godly man. Christ knows what men are indeed. Does He know us? Let us desire to know him. Let us seek and pray to be those in whom is no guile; truly Christians, approved of Christ himself. Some things weak, imperfect, and sinful, are found in all, but hypocrisy belongs not to a believer’s character. Jesus witnessed what passed when Nathanael was under the fig-tree. Probably he was then in fervent prayer, seeking direction as to the Hope and Consolation of Israel, where no human eye observed him. This showed him that our Lord knew the secrets of his heart.
Though Adam is a sinner, makes mistakes, has weaknesses, and can be misunderstood, a man had watched him and taken the time to know his heart. And this man found Adam to be a godly man of integrity. And, oh, how much greater does God know us?!
“..For He knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalm 44:21)
We want to pray that the little man being formed in my womb becomes a man who has an integrity-filled heart. A man in whom there is no deceit.
So, that evening we also looked up the meaning for the name “Nathanael”…
Nathanael: “Gift of God; God has given“.
Not only has God given us, out of His grace and goodness, the indescribable gift of salvation, but He’s also chosen to entrust these two unworthy, imperfect parents with the beautiful gift of another son.
This boy in my womb, a gift of God. Unmerited. Unearned. Freely given out of our Father’s extravagant love.
Jack Nathanael Johnson
God’s gracious gift.
Would you continue to pray for Jack as God knits him together in my womb? Also praying for his parents (and brothers) as we wait to meet him? That we would continue to be satisfied in the good and gracious God of our salvation.
Thank you, dear friends!
“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.”
– Psalm 116:5
“In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to Your name forever.”
– Psalm 44:8
“So I’m breathing in Your grace, and breathing out Your praise…“
– Matt Redman (Your Grace Finds Me)
Thanks for the suggestion, Isaiah! 😉