We didn’t name him.
Naming and Prayers
Up to this point, having now had and named seven children, it has been uncanny to see just how much each of our children has grown into and become the “name-prayers” that we have given to them. This has happened in absolutely unforeseeable ways from simply loving the name Benjamin, and then finding out it means “son of my right hand” and then watching his personality unfold into being SO much like his father’s, to praying the name and character of King Josiah over DJ and watching him become the leader and the lover of the Word of God that his short 13 years has allowed him to exhibit. There is certainly power in the act of naming, not only in our immediate experience as parents, but also as is evidenced throughout Biblical history. When God called certain individuals for His purposes, he also often named or renamed them according to who He was making them to be and what He was leading them to do. From Adam, to Abram turned Abraham and Jacob turned Israel to the forenaming of John the Baptist and Jesus, God has been about names.
And for some reason, and beyond what we were looking for or expecting, God has been in the process of naming this newest Iverson addition even before he was conceived.
The Name Nathanael
Early in 2018, I was simply going about my housework, and right there amidst putting folded laundry away, the Lord spoke it to my heart,
“I have another son for you.”
I froze. And then the name
flashed through my mind.
As I processed, this, a “yes, Lord” settled in my spirit as I knew that if the Lord was kind enough to give me warning about being called to go through yet another pregnancy, then He would also be the one to sustain me through it in the midst of raising the other seven, and full time ministry and homeschooling and the intensity of a full life.
And then I proceeded to google what “Nathanael” even meant. There it was. God showing me what he was doing.
In Hebrew the meaning of the name Nathanael is:
Gift of God; God has given
And you certainly can’t argue when God is trying to gift you with something, or someone.
So in those early months of 2018 the Lord prepared my heart for another child who may be coming in a few weeks or a few years. All I knew is that the Lord would be gifting us with another son. Not burdening us with another pregnancy. Or overwhelming us with another child to raise. But gifting us with a special gift from Him.
Later, as our family read (in our family devotions one night) the story of Jesus calling Nathanael to be one of his 12 Apostles, I couldn’t help but note:
"When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching” (Jesus saw my Nathanael approaching long before I imagined having another child)
he said of him, (Jesus was speaking to me about what my Nathanael would be. He speaks “of us”, knowing us better even than we know ourselves)
“Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
Then it was the fact that Jesus KNEW Nathanael, that drew Nathanael to his Lord and Savior.
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
(Jesus saw our little Joel before we even had the thought of having another child)
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
(It was the overwhelming knowledge of truly being known and seen by the King of Love that caused Nathanael to declare Jesus’ Kingship... and we pray that our Joel Nathaniel will do the same)
Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:47-51)
As I mulled over this passage and this experience, an assurance rested in me. God saw this child approaching and Jesus Himself was knowing him, naming him and describing who he was and what he would behold as he followed "the king of Israel”.
And now, this much prayed over child is finally here and our prayer is that every day of his life, he would rest in the knowledge that Jesus, the Son of Man, knows him and is beckoning him to follow Him. Jesus is calling our son into a “seeing” of heaven being opened up and a “seeing” of "the angels of God ascending and descending" to bring glory to Christ in his own generation-the time and place in history in which God chose to bring Joel Nathanael into the world.
The Name Joel
I was tired. We almost didn’t go. I was just hitting the pregnancy fatigue of the first trimester and Danny and I were lying on the bed after a long day debating whether or not to show up to a prayer and worship outreach night that we had been invited to. We asked the Holy Spirit, “Are we really suppose to go to this?” After some “listening prayer” we both sensed that the Lord wanted us there. So we rallied. Dragged tired bodies out of the house and left the kids with a babysitter.
We snuck into the back row and began joining those that were lifting up praises to the Lord... except my “praises” were more like “laments”
“Oh Lord, we are not raising our kids the way I had wanted to!”
“Oh Lord, if only I were more patient with them.. they would feel more loved and accepted."
“Oh Lord, in our desire to raise up children to be a light of compassion and grace, it feels like all we have is a gaggle of kids who fight and bicker.”
“Oh Lord, unless you intervene, this whole parenting endeavor is going to end up as one big huge failure.”
The night went on and the Word was preached and the pastor called us all up front to begin praying... what transpired was a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ ministering to one another. Complete strangers began praying for each other’s needs, heartaches and hopes. People began weeping over sin and repenting and speaking truth into each other’s lives. It was during that time that a woman walked over to me and began praying over me. She prayed as the Holy Spirit led her, and HE alone had heard my laments and cries earlier in the evening. And now He was speaking truth (through her) into the lies and doubts I had poured out at my Savior’s feet.
“All your children are prophets. (She didn’t even know we had kids) The battles in the home that you are facing are the enemy’s attack on the children He has given you to raise up. God is a shield around you and around your home though and He raises up the bulwark against the enemy. Don’t be afraid of or surprised by the attacks, your children are a threat to the enemy and that is why this battle is so fierce. The blood of Jesus protects and shields these children in your home and they WILL fulfill the calling God has on them and they will walk in the good works God has prepared for them.” (At this point I am weeping because of how much I needed to hear these exact things) Then this woman lays her hand on my stomach (which wasn’t showing yet) and says, “God is blessing the fruit of your womb. He is making your children to be mighty in the land.” And the minute she stopped praying for me and we hugged and started to part ways, it was as if a bolt of lightning pierced my heart and “Joel” was planted in it. And I KNEW that this child’s name was Joel. God had just shown me how intimately He knew me and my heart's desire. He had sent this woman who didn’t know me, but knew the Spirit of God and His voice. Because of that knowing, she was able to know the exact things to pray over me and my family.
So here we were, being ministered to by an outpouring of Holy Spirit on the Body of Christ, during which, we "received" the name "Joel" for our son. And Joel was the very prophet that prophecied that such a pouring out of the Holy Spirit would occur.
"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." Joel 2:28
Again, I googled the meaning of a name and found that Joel means
“Yahweh is God. Strong-willed.”
And what more could we desire for our son and his life- that he would know that the personal, but Almighty God is his God. We pray that because of the strength of the Lord, Joel Nathanael would be strong-willed… not for his own purposes (like staying breech when I tried everything to coax him into turning before the version) but to be about the things the Lord calls him to be and do in life. A strong will that is submitted and surrendered to the will of God, is a powerful force to be reckoned with. We believe and pray that this will be true of this tiny little bundle we now hold in our arms.