Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Than a Name: Elihu Siloam

We started calling our baby 'bud' after an email from my husband's Gramma. 
That's why I put the flower and buds on the program.

On October 8, 2010 we had a Heaven Party/memorial service for our third son, Elihu Siloam. The image above was the program I made for the service. Tomorrow I will talk about the music we chose but first I wanted to share with you God's Gift of a Name because it was truly a blessing. Straight-talk from my Creator. From Elihu's Creator.

Here's what my husband and I shared that morning:

Service Notes for Elihu Siloam
October 8, 2010

(worship song: How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise)
Welcome (by my husband):
We want to thank you so much for joining us today at the park as we honor our little boy with a memorial service. Later we will release balloons and watch them drift into the sky hoping with a childlike faith that someday we will arrive Home to embrace our son (and brother). As we release them we will delight in Elihu (yep, that’s his name) and in God’s mysterious ways. We look back at Elihu’s short life and hope forward until that magnificent day when we all finally make it Home.

C.S. Lewis says, "I am a soul, I have a body." Oh, how wonderful God's mysterious ways! I marvel at the REALITY that when my body reaches its finish line here, my soul will not. My end will really be my beginning! Just like Elihu’s.

(prayer for the service)

God's Gift of a Name (from me):
A few weeks ago I got on the computer to look at baby names because I really wanted our son to have a name. When my husband asked me what I was doing I was embarrassed and said, “nothing.” I was afraid that he would think I was being dumb for wanting to name a child we had never seen. I wanted our son’s name to have true meaning. We got Asher’s name from Deuteronomy 33 and really loved how God blessed Asher in the Bible. And in Numbers 25 Phineas also received a blessing from God that we loved. So I wanted this little boy to have a name with special meaning. Although I found some really cool meanings the names were a little too different. Until I found:

אֶלִיהוּא ‘Elihu’    *Hebrew – “my God is Yahweh”

I knew that was his name. And I definitely got that confirmation the next night in bed. I told my husband earlier that evening that I wanted to name our son Elihu and told him the meaning of the name. He told me that he liked it and didn’t think it was stupid that I wanted him to have a name. As I was getting into bed that evening I grabbed my library book, Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey. I wasn’t ready to really read the book but I thought I’d open it to a chapter and start reading to get an idea of what to expect. And I opened it to Chapter 25 and Mr. Yancey called Elihu a brash young man who ridicules Job’s desire for a visit from God.
“Do you think God cares about a puny creature like you? Do you imagine that the Almighty God, the Maker of the Universe, will deign to visit earth and meet with you in person? Does he owe you some kind of explanation? Get serious, Job!” Then a storm draws near and a Voice like no other booms out. God himself has arrived on the scene and has come to reply to Job’s accusations of unfairness.

God’s “reply” [to Job’s questions], in fact, consists of more questions than answers. He doesn’t address their debate on the problem with pain, he plunges instead into a magnificent verbal tour of the natural world. He seems to guide Job through a private gallery of his favorite works, his own creation.

In his book Wishful Thinking, Fredrick Buechner sums up God’s speech. “God doesn’t explain. He explodes. He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway…God doesn’t reveal his grand design. He reveals himself.” The message behind the splendid poetry boils down to this: Until you know a little more about running the physical universe, Job, don’t tell me how to run the moral universe.

“Why are you treating me so unfairly, God?” Job has whined throughout the book. “Put yourself in my place.”

“NO!!!” God thunders in reply. “You put yourself in my place! Until you can offer lessons on how to make the sun come up each day, or where to scatter lightning bolts, or how to design a hippopotamus, don’t judge how I run the world. Just shut up and listen.” (pg 212-213)

I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting to hear so directly from God. The fact that I had picked that specific name and my husband agreed and then I read the opening to the chapter was amazing. A small miracle. I really felt like God was speaking to me. That He had brought the name Elihu to my mind and heart and then prepared to tell me His Truths.

Last weekend at an Anne Graham-Lotz conference (AGL) she asked us “How do you know you are hearing God’s Voice?” And this is what she said:

1. God’s Voice is Biblical – After reading the opening to Chapter 25 in Disappointment with God I was prompted to go to my Bible to find out who this Elihu was and what he had to say to Job.

In Job 32:1-9 Elihu talks about how wisdom doesn’t come from age it comes from the spirit in a man and Elihu has held his tongue long enough. He wanted to speak Truth to Job and his friends about the power and sovereignty of God.

2. God’s Voice is Powerful – First God used Elihu’s words in Job to chastise me. I pictured my little Elihu (a young boy) talking to me – “Mom, why are you questioning God? The God who loves you? The God who loves me? Who created me? Who knew me before one of my days came to be?” God humbled me with His words. How could I question God’s love for me and His love for my child?

Job 33:12-13 tells me that God is greater than I am; why do I complain to Him?

And in Job 34:10, 12 I am told that it is unthinkable to assume that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.

Job 34:26-Job 37 goes on to show God’s mighty power through a storm and proclaim His glory through His creation.

3. God’s Voice is Personal – Then God used Elihu’s words to Job to comfort me. Job 33:4 says “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” So even though our little boy did not breathe the air of this earth, it was the breath of the Almighty that gave him life. God did care about my baby boy. God gave Elihu his short little life. He is loved. He’s in heaven basking in God’s glory. He was fearfully and wonderfully made – and now I really know that full well. I needed God to be direct with me and He was gracious enough to do that. Even though I know the words of Psalm 139 it wasn’t specific enough for me. But in God’s mercy He gave. me. specific. He heard the cries of my heart. And although my questions weren’t answered I was at peace. I have humbly come to accept His love and grace through this trial.

And now for Elihu’s middle name…

I had been questioning God: Why did this happen? What’s Your plan? What did I do wrong? Am I being punished? But I was reminded this past weekend at AGL that God doesn’t work that way. Jesus talks about this in John 9:1-3
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
This is not about me (as are most things). And I now know that God sent us this child so that His work and glory might be displayed in his little life, in my life, in Jonathan’s life, in the lives of our sons.

Then Jesus spit in the dirt and rubbed the mud on the blind man’s eyes and had him wash in the pool of Siloam and he was healed – he could see. And I too was blind and God used this experience to open my eyes. My big lesson: to know that a relationship with Jesus is personal. That he cares for me specifically, not generally.

So that’s why we are giving Elihu the middle name of Siloam (one who has been sent) because I truly believe that God sent Elihu to open my eyes – to humble me before God, to cause me to bend to His will, and ultimately to cast my anxiety on Him because He really does care for me and He cares for my Elihu Siloam.

(prayer of thanks for Elihu Siloam)

(start song Fly; hand out balloons; release balloons)

(worship songs: Call to Me; What a Day That Will Be; Great Big God)

I planned on having my husband read Psalm 139 but after we released the balloons we just listened to worship music and danced around with our kids watching the balloons drift into the sky. Then we gathered for cake. To celebrate Elihu's Homecoming in heaven.

That's how we celebrated little Elihu's life. We asked a former student, now professional photographer, to come and take family pictures prior to the service and to stick around to take pictures during and after our service and Heaven party so my husband would be able to be truly present in the moment instead of focusing on pictures (which he has a tendency to do). ;) We haven't seen all the pictures yet but we are so thankful that Matt could come and take pictures of this special day for us. (I plan on posting some of them as I am able - our photographer is now working on a cruise for 5 months so we'll see how long it takes.) ;)

PS. Thank you to Denise who helped me find the words to begin such a meaningful service for our son and who's encouragement made this celebration possible.
PPS. I never did read Disappointment with God. ;)

Here's more on the Planning (Part 1) of our service.

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