Letter to Joshua

Our dear son, our firstborn!

We are so pleased, and thankful, and humbled, that God has blessed us with you. It is exciting to have you as a son, and we look forward to seeing how God turns you into a man after His own heart. We want you to know and remember that you have been born into a Christian family. You will be baptized right away—and we believe that brings you into a covenant with Christ. He gives you the name Christian, and it is your responsibility to love Him, and thankfully live up to that name.

The Bible often describes how God names His people, and they then live up to that name. When he still had no children, Abram was re-named Abraham, which means father of many nations. Abraham had faith that God would do what he promised, and, indeed, from him many mighty nations came. Much later, fearful Gideon, threshing his wheat in hiding, was greeted by the Angel of the Lord, “The Lord is with you, mighty man of valor!” Though Gideon had done nothing already, God knew that he would be the man to rescue Israel from the Midianites. God gives his people names that have meanings, or tell a story: we imitate Him by giving you names of men whose lives have meaning, whose stories are worth living up to.

Your first name is Joshua, which means “Yahweh saves.” You are named after Joshua, the son of Nun, who was Moses’ servant, and eventually the leader of all of Israel. Joshua was one of the twelve men selected by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan. When they returned, they told of the great fruitfulness of the land and how it flowed with milk and honey. But ten of the men said, “But the people of the land are strong, their cities are fortified and very large, and the descendants of the giants are there. We are not able to go up against these people, for they are stronger than we are, and we are nothing but grasshoppers in their sight.” But Joshua, and Caleb with him, assured the people, “The land is an exceedingly good land, and if the Lord delights in us, He will bring us into it. Do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land for their protection has departed from them and the Lord is with us.” Because of their faith, Joshua and Caleb were the only men of their generation to survive the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and finally enter and conquer the fruitful land of Canaan. May you, our son, have the faith of Joshua when you are up against giants in your life that make you feel like a grasshopper.

Your second name is Robert. You are named after three men called Robert: Robert the Bruce, Robert E. Lee, and your grandfather. Robert the Bruce was a Scottish king in the 1300s who led his people in defending their country against English tyranny. Although a coward at first, he eventually gained the resolve to put his responsibility before his fear, and it is due in large part to his courage, perseverance, and energy that Scotland gained her freedom. Robert E. Lee was a general during the American Civil War. A true man of resolve, he had the opportunity to command the entire Federal army, but he chose instead to fight for the Southern Confederation because he believed it was the right thing to do. He knew this choice could cause him to lose everything he owned: and, in fact, the land that his family had owned for generations was confiscated and eventually turned into the Arlington National Cemetery. Finally, you are named after Robert Evans, your grandfather. He has always demonstrated resolve: he showed it in his determination to marry your grandmother, Patricia; he demonstrates it daily in his leadership at church, and in his home, and in his Christian witness in a secular workplace; and he has recently shown it again in his willingness to adopt your aunts Anisa and Gilma from Albania. His example and the lessons he taught did much to form the character of your father, and it is our hope that many of those lessons may be passed on to you. Always be thankful for the foundation he and your other grandparents laid for your parents to build upon!

We give you the third name, Resolve, because we want you to possess this character attribute. As the Lord said to Joshua, so we say to you:

Be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. The Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and you will have good success.

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

May you grow up to say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

As a family, we want to stress the importance of story. Your first three initials are JRR, which is an intentional reminder of JRR Tolkien, one of the greatest human storytellers in history. But God is the Great Author: everything that has happened, everything that is happening, and everything that will happen is part of His story. We want you to remember that God is sovereign, and your life flows from His pen.

When the pastor asks us at your baptism, “What is the Christian name of this child?” we will reply, “Joshua Robert Resolve.” We know that you, as a little baby in our arms, won’t be able to conquer Canaan, defend Scotland from the English, or sacrifice everything for a cause. But just as God kept His promise to Abraham and just as He made fearful Gideon become a mighty man of valor, so God will help you as you grow to become another Joshua, another Robert, another man of resolve.