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Peter Douglas, The Name

Life keeps moving forward since Peter’s accident. For one thing, Doug and I recently found out that next May we are to become grandparents – an announcement that has generated no small excitement among the Helms clan. Of course, the first order of business has been for all the family to propose suitable names for Caleb and Hope’s child. The temptation has been quite irresistible. Soon-to-be Uncle Andrew, for example, eagerly threw “Thomas Aquinas” into the ring. As you might imagine, this offering drew an unenthusiastic reception from Andrew’s less philosophic family members.

As Christians, we hope that the name we give a baby will prove meaningful to him as he grows up. Believers over the span of history have used the opportunity for naming to impart some spiritual blessing or quality or vision they have for their children. Little did Doug and I know as young parents 19 years ago how aptly Peter’s name would fit him for this time in his life. Surely the Lord guided us to the name we chose for him, as well as to the words we spoke to him the night of his high school graduation, providentially ignorant of the way it would apply to his tragic struggle two months later. Here is the exhortation that Doug and I gave Peter that night in May, 2010. We mean for the words to encourage him even more today:

“Peter, it gives your mother and I great joy today to celebrate the graduation and coming to young adulthood of our youngest son and child. You are the last fledgling to leave the nest of home, and so it is a bittersweet event for your middle-aged parents.

“Seventeen years ago, when you were born, our country faced startling challenges. Bill Clinton had just been elected, and we homeschoolers were apprehensive about what the change in administration would bring to our liberties and to our government. We wondered what his morals would bring to our culture.

“So we named you Peter Douglas. Peter means ‘rock’ and Douglas means ‘out of dark waters.’ We envisioned for your life one of those paintings of craggy boulders in the midst of crashing waves, the kind in which foamy green waves splash the canvas with ominous foreboding, while in the corner, large brown boulders meet the waves unmoved and unaffected, steady and solid.

“This has been our desire for your life, Peter, that when you see threatening waters swirl around your life, or the life of your country, when Clinton’s plans seem paltry compared to what you may face in your future, you would bravely as the Scripture commands, ‘Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.’

“We have rejoiced already in the first years of your young life, Peter, as we see the Lord’s hand on you, giving you grace to live up to your name. You have been, as one of your church family described you once, ‘quiet, steady, and tenacious.’ You have gone through challenges in the years God has given you, and you have met them with a quiet fortitude. Mom and I remember that there were several years that on your birthday, you would end the day with a prayer that went something like, ‘Lord, thank You for these (9 or 10 and so on) good years You have given me, and if You are so good as to bless me with another year, I pray You’d help me live it for Your glory.’

“You were on the right track here, Peter. You can’t face life’s storms without the Lord’s help. Many times in the future, you will be reminded of your utter dependence on the Lord and on His merciful strength. Keep seeking His face to give you the steadiness to live for His glory, when you feel you’d rather cave in, or you see others giving way around you.

“Remember that your ‘hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. You dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. When darkness seems to hide His face, rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, your anchor will hold within the veil. His oath, His covenant, His blood, will support you in the whelming flood. When all around your soul gives way, He still is all your hope and stay.’ Christ is your Solid Rock, Peter. Stand firm on Him.”


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