Name

Names

(Although a beautiful name, we are not naming our daughter Eve. There may be confusion because this blog is called ‘eveschronicles‘…so please read Who is Eve?to find out why. On with the reveal.)

A name is full of meaning and can be powerful, so choosing a name for our daughter has been something we’ve spent much time discussing. Hilariously, Rachel means ‘little lamb’ and Russ means ‘fox-coloured (red)’. So this lamb and her fox have been keen to identify our daughter without reference to the animal kingdom!

We are naming our precious girl Anneka Jane.

Anneka means Grace, one whom ‘God has shown Favour’

Jane means ‘Gift from God’

These two names hold a vault of meaning to us. Firstly, my sister is Jani Ann. She is the second born girl in our family, my slightly younger sidekick and best friend growing up. Today, she is a woman I am very proud to be so closely related to! She carries a sassy passion for life and music in one hand, and a fierce compassion for people and the marginalized in her other hand. We share a memory bank of stories from each chapter of our lives and throughout, I’ve always called her Jane. Anneka Jane is a play on her name, in her honour. Jani Ann.

Secondly, the meaning of these names hold great depth for both Russ and I. I was raised in the church and the concept of God’s grace was not unfamiliar to me throughout my early years; yet grace has become the cornerstone of my life over the past decade in a way that has brought power, peace and joy to my life in a redeeming way. It was grace that touched my young heart and brought me to my knees at a tender age where I recited a version of the sinner’s prayer. Over the years that followed, I allowed the perfection of Grace itself to be muddied by natural laws of earned favour, performance-based approval and self-righteous merits. Striving persisted into the post-prodigal chapters of my adulthood. My desire to gain favour with God was fervent, but the road I believed would lead me there was merely a gauntlet of service, prayer and study. I was constantly examining myself and my eyes were fixed on me.

The narrative of ‘try harder, pray more, sacrifice greater, serve further’ was the undertone in what I heard from pulpits and read from the Bible through my ‘works-based’ lens. The questions mounted and stole confidence from my secure place in Christ. Was I doing enough? Could I do more to secure God’s love? Was I worthy of heaven? Could I lose my salvation?

This thinking becomes detrimental to grace. My belief that I had to work hard to retain my place in God’s ‘good graces’, produced in me a self-righteous arrogance for putting in the ‘hard work’. Religious entitlement tainted my perspective as I took on a ‘justice-seeking, sell-all-and-give-to-the-poor missionaries’ identity. It pains me to admit this, but it was easy to believe that somehow I was more pleasing to God than others, because I had taken certain steps of faith and given up a cushy existence, to serve children who were orphaned and HIV positive, in Uganda. I’d believed that a missional lifestyle would secure my place with God, and I rested in my own works. Such false security.

This religious theology of “earning grace” can so easily cross over to the belief that if we are ‘good‘ people, we are accepted by God. In fact, this concept has so deeply influenced our society, that mainstream thinking promotes the concept that being ‘good’ IS the path to heaven, for those who acknowledge there may be a heaven and hell. I believed this too, just in a slightly more ‘churched’ construction. After all, it can seem difficult to embrace that God is Love AND that good, charitable and kind behaviour in itself is not the way to heaven.

The biblical parable of the man with two sons sheds light on two stances in life that have kept me from receiving God’s grace. One son is recklessly sinful, choosing a scandalous path far from the Father’s house. He is the picture of unrighteousness. The other son is impeccably good, choosing a life of service in his Fathers home, believing he was earning his place. He is the picture of self-righteousness. Yet the beauty of the parable is seen in the Father. He does not shun his unrighteous son but waits in constant anticipation for his return. Equally, He does not reward the self-righteous son in relation to his service but hopes that this son will realize all that is already rewarded, by virtue of sonship, not servanthood. He offers each an identity which is intrinsically based on their identity to Him and is unrelated to their behaviours/track-records. In the same way that Jesus did not have to sin, to become sin…..we do not rely on behaving righteously, to become the righteousness of God. And yet…this gift of God’s righteousness compels us to be like God as we embrace His identity for ourselves.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

This grace. The grace that changed me, changed my wants, transformed my desire, reiterates over and over to me WHO I AM…..because of WHO HE IS. This grace, this Father, who waited patiently while I rebelled, while I grasped for life in futile efforts- He waited for me without imputing my wrongs on me when I returned to Him. This Father, who saw my good deeds, who watched me proudly strive, sweat and bleed in the service of the poor, hurting and orphaned in His name. He saught me out….reminding me of my true worth- apart from my service. He lit my heart up to serve, from a place of confident identity in Him, rather than in my effort to gain a place with Him.

And now, each day, I live with the knowledge that I am not good, apart from God. But I am a daughter of God, a woman who is accepted because of Jesus gift that I’ve humbly received. This identity comes with the confidence that I am not condemned; rather, I am standing right before God because of Jesus. He is the WAY to God. And in light of this truth, my heart, feet and mind align with Him and I’m continuously being transformed by this identity to look like Him and reflect Him in this world.

I need God’s grace and favour every day, as I look ahead to raising Anneka Jane. And, I want her to know (and Madeleine for that matter) that her identity is not qualified by her abilities nor tainted by her different abilities….but her identity is firmly established by Jesus. He is able to set her feet on solid ground, to welcome her to walk on the waters of life, to lavish her abundantly with health, hope and dignity and He calls her His beloved.

I believe the same grace is for you. Good, bad….or somewhere in-between. Regardless if you strive to be good or strive to find life far from God- His love is for you, His identity is offered to you. Because none of us is perfect on our own, the perfect standards of God were accomplished for you by Jesus- who IS Grace. Hide in Him…..and you will find LIFE ABUNDANTLY

Anneka Jane is already a gift from God. She will carry a name that speaks of the Grace and Favor promised for her….and luckily, there is no reference to the animal kingdom in her name!

We get to meet her on Thursday!

18 thoughts on “Name

  1. Such beautiful words Rachel. May God continue to bless you and your sweet family. Praying for your delivery of Anneka Jane to go well on Thursday…👼
    Dindi

  2. On Thursday!! Wow… I can hardly wait. Praying every day for you all… (and so glad the fox didn’t eat the lamb but loved her instead).

  3. beautifully written….heartfelt thoughts from real life experience….reminded me of some of my own journey…Love your choice of a name for this precious little girl….shall be thinking of all of you Thursday as she makes her debut….Welcome Anneka Jane…

  4. The longest day for the big day! We’re praying for you all, especially big sister Madeline. May God “birth” in her heart a deep love for her new sister, even at her young age.”

  5. Beautiful name choice Rachel, although slightly biased (our daughter is similarly named Anna Jane) 😆. Anna has herself given birth to her second child just four days ago and he is Dylan James …so AJ now has a little DJ! Thinking of you and your beautiful little family. Not much longer to wait until Thursday eh. God Bless you all. Love from Vanessa and Colin xx

    1. How awesome! I didn’t know Anna’s middle name was Jane… and that she’s had two babies of her own! Congrats on being a Grandparents- I’m sure you are both very good at it! 😍

  6. Thanks Rachel for beautifully writing about Jesus’s Grace. Praying for you and Russ as you welcome Anneka Jane!

    1. I am thankful to call you my sister in law!! I KNOW God will bless you with grace and strength as you start this new chapter in your life. Love, Auntie Rae

  7. Beautifully writtèn Rachel. Last week a friend took me to The Bull River guest Rancb. Beyond a doubt, it was one of the most beautiful places Ive ever been too. While reading your story, my mind kept taking me back to the Ranch, where I felt Gods grace all over me. What had I ever done to feel the Suns warth, smell all kiñds of gloriôus scents and watch with great wonder the little hummingbirds feastiñg ôñ sugarwater as they continued on down their migration route. I felt so blessed to be there, surrounded by such beauty!! That was grace!
    Your Sweet, Beautiful baby girł will be an example of that powerful, loving grace every day of her precioûs life. She’ll fill your hearts with wonder and humility as God takes her hand añd walks her through life.
    Your two girls will keep you busy this year. I’m prayiñg hard for everyoñe on the 21st. All will go great!!!
    Love
    Di

    Li

    1. Thanks Di!! Soooo awesome to hear your recent encounter with grace and the beauty of life! Amen to all you’ve spoken over Anneka, thank you!

  8. Thankyou for your beautiful posts Rachel…you’re inspiring and vulnerable and to join you through prayer in your walk of birthing and raising your two wee girls is a privilege. My days right now are seeing God’s hand of favour gifted
    in both death and birth. I marvel at his hand which holds both with his deepest love. I’ll be celebrating with you on Thursday – welcoming Anneka Jane and knowing that she is abundant in potential …and has love enough to fulfill all that He has promised to her in her lifetime. Many blessing and joy prayed over you through these days…

    1. Thank you! What a hope-filled perspective to see Gods hand in both life and death. I am so sorry for your recent loss of a dear dear friend….and yet celebrate her for all the love she shared in her lifetime and now speaks up around the throne of heaven!
      It is so encouraging that you’ve been reading. Amen to all you’ve spoken over Anneka….amen and amen! 😍

  9. Pure JOY from your words is what you’re giving us all! Congrats to you on becoming a Mamma of your precious baby girl Anneka Jane 💗

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