In ancient times, names had significantly more meaning that they do now. We often name our children based on an inspirational word, or significant person from our past. Sometimes names become synonymous with an influential (or infamous) person. For instance, you may meet a wonderfully nice and respectful person named Charles Manson (you can imagine it would be common) but you may be a little skittish to allow him to come over for dinner.
Long ago, a name associated a person with their life’s work or even their ancestors. A first name that carried down from a father would carry certain responsibilities. There would be a requisite legacy that would be implied. A last name would often display the person’s craft or occupation. Tanners tanned animal hides. Smiths made things with their hands. Archers were skilled hunters. You get the idea.
My middle is Byron. If you were to look at the meaning of this name in a database of name origins, there would be nothing that really stood out. In my family, there is deep meaning in this name.
This name that is often only represented by an initial on important documentation comes from my grandpa, Byron (nickname: Barney). He was a soldier in the Korean Conflict, and understood what it meant to fight, survive, and experience immense suffering. His job in the military was to make sure the infantry had their supplies so they could fight and withstand the enemy’s advances. He told stories of times when he would be in a fox hole, and lacked confidence that he would live to see another day. In those moments, he leaned on the word of God and prayer. You can imagine that they were prayers that were hurried, imperfect and broken, but those utterances began to lay a foundation for the future. A long lasting relationship was formed because his prayer life started out of desperation.
Throughout the rest of his life, his prayer life grew, matured, and deepened. This was so much the case that people sought him out to give him special prayer requests. When he prayed, things really happened. Often I would catch him seemingly referring to Jesus as a brother and friend. He knew God was far above him, but there was such an intimate closeness that he imagined himself as an ancient disciple, following his best friend around, doing miracles out of habit. My Papaw was known to be a mighty prayer warrior. Daily he would take hours to spend time doing his real business; praying. For him, the time went quickly as it often does when one spends time chatting with an old friend. He didn’t just ask God for things either. He praised, learned, and got to know Jesus better through these times.
I had the privilege of seeing power released during these times when he called out to God. I have seen miracles happen in front of me because of things whispered. I learned to never look at prayer as a high and lofty pursuit, or as a business meeting with the CEO, but a relationship building conversation with a friend or a tired cry in the lap of a father. So, please forgive me when I grin when people call this life a fairy tale. To me, it is just like telling a recently deployed soldier that war is not real.
I have my Papaw’s DNA in me. I have his name too. This carries responsibility. I am not sure why, but people come to me often with prayer needs, and I get excited to include that in my daily visit with my Father. I want to have a deeper prayer life like he did. I want to be closer to God in ways people dream of. I don’t care if He ever answers another prayer I pray. I just want to talk and listen. I want this, because I know power is released when this happens.
Papaw was a warrior (my Mamaw is also one). Until the day he died, his job never changed. I gladly pick up the job where he left off and make sure those on the field have what they need to withstand the enemy’s advances. All I know is that, when I pray, things happen. You can call it chance or luck, but these “coincidences” seem to occur more when I cry out to God. So, I will stick with my routine. I just need to keep my heart clear, and stay serious about the work.
Next month, we will celebrate 4 years since he left us to live with his best friend and King.
My grandfather was not overly special. He just prayed.
Love you all.