Naming a child is no small task! I’m not sure how other parents have named their children but Tony and I wanted a name that communicated a message to our child. More specifically…a name that helped communicate their worth and identity in Christ. We know that identity turns into being a huge issue for use as humans. We all are trying to answer the question of “who am I?”.
When the Israelites named their children most of those names communicated a message. Often times God told the parents what to name their child i.e. He told Zechariah to name his child John. This John became “John the Baptist”. God also changed the name of several characters out of the Bible. When you look at what their previous names meant and then look at what their new name meant; the message Christ communicated was outstanding. While I don’t have time to go into a detailed example, some that you might want to study up on is Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel and Saul to Paul.
Tony and I sought to find out what message God would want to communicate to our little Fella. I knew that about a year and a half after Tony and I married, God spoke to me very specifically about the issue of children and gave me the name Nathanael. First of all, the name Nathanael means “given by God”. We know that our little Fella literally is a gift given to us by God.
Also, you may have noticed that the way we are spelling Nathanael is different from most. That is because our Nathanael is named after the fourth disciple, Nathanael, that Jesus called to follow Him in John 1. Phillip found Nathanael and shared that they had found “Messiah.” Nathanael was one who had studied the scriptures of the law and prophets and was looking for Messiah’s appearance. He was a follower of Yahweh and a godly man of honesty and integrity. So when Nathanael met Jesus for the first time, He immediately recognized Messiah and chose to follow Him unashamedly. Jesus promised Nathanael that he would see even greater things if he followed. Jesus recognized Nathanael for who he was as a man of honesty and integrity in John 1:47. Oh, that Jesus could say that about all of us. In case you are wondering what happened to Nathanael…he went on to be a missionary and is known for his work in India. He was also martyred by being flayed and then crucified. Doesn’t sound to pleasant, does it?? Because Nathanael was a man of honesty and integrity, he stood strong for what he believed in even when it cost him his very life!
One other note that makes this name so special for me personally is that when Mike Woods, Pastor of First Baptist Powder Springs where I served for 12 years introduced Tony and I described Tony as “A Nathanael”. He knew that before I would agree to be “fixed up” with his nephew I needed a little information on who this guy was. He said the best way he knew to describe Tony Dodd was that he was “a Nathanael” – a man of honesty and integrity. Well, I can say that over the 12 years that I have known him now he has always showed himself as a man of honesty and integrity.
The name Douglas was my father’s middle name. Very interestingly, if I had to pick out several key characteristics that I admired in my Dad it would be that he was a man of honesty and integrity who truly followed Christ and watched expectantly for Messiah’s Rapture and Second Coming. So it was only fitting that Nathanael’s middle name be Douglas.
Our prayer for our Son is that he would come to know Christ intimately at an early age and that he grow into a godly man of honesty and integrity, seriously watching and waiting for the Rapture of the church and the Second Coming of our Lord. And even if one day it would cost him his very life – we pray that he would remain faithful to our Abba Father.
We love you, Nathanael Douglas Dodd!