Introducing Zechariah James Hollins
Our 4th baby, a boy, was born today at 7:19am this morning, September 12, 2015. He weighs 7lbs 15oz and is 21 inches long. Both mother and child are well and resting at the moment.
It is such a joy to witness the miracle of God in giving life. What great hope and promise there is at the birth of a baby. Who knows but God what his life will entail? Yet it is in times like these that we must also not forget those who suffer under such circumstances. I want to share my joy with all of you, but we all must also weep with those who weep and not forget them. There are many who witness the birth of someone else’s baby and though filled with joy are conflicted with the sorrow of their own losses, whether that be in a loss like miscarriage or a still born child, or in the emptiness of barrenness or singleness too. When would-be mothers share the joy of the birth of another mother’s baby, they are often left wondering, “Does anyone remember my pain?”
I have named my son Zechariah James Hollins with this question in mind. I have recently finished a study of the book of Ecclesiastes with my church. In that book one of the main reasons that everything is considered vanity under the sun is because everything is forgotten. Ecclesiastes 1:11 “There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.” We all long to be remembered, but because of our sin we die, and as time passes memory fades, and death erases from existence the memory of things. Therefore, it is a futile effort to try to be remembered, like chasing after the wind. Even my newborn baby boy will end up in the same place as everyone else. He too will not escape the tyranny of time and the curse of death on our lives.
So what is there that can bring meaning into our meaningless existence under the sun? Meaning can only come from the One who alone is above the sun, the Creator of the sun and all time, our Father in heaven. As the Israelites faced the devastation of the reality of their exile, what was the one thing that gave them the hope of passing through that valley of the shadow of death? “Zechariah.” Zechariah means, “Yahweh remembers.” The simple refrain that God remembers is a comfort to all those who trust in the promises of God. God is faithful to keep his covenant, like he was to Noah while in the belly of a boat, God remembered Noah. And more importantly to Jesus in the belly of a grave, God remembered and did not let death have the final say. So too for us, our only hope for escaping the vanity of our existence and not being blown away by the passing of time, lost in the archives of history, is to be remembered by God forever in a covenant relationship with him.
As many of you know, and can already see, names are important to me. So, I come back to one of my favorite names in the Bible, Jacob. This is the name of my firstborn son, and I revisit that name with my third son, for the name James in English comes from the Latin spelling of Jacob in the New Testament. Time and history and cultures have changed a name. For those of you who know my reason for choosing Jacob as my firstborn, you will see the similarity here, because the significance of Jacob’s life is that his name and identity are changed. We all too must have new identities given to us as we put off the old man and put on the new in Jesus Christ. But also, like the name James in the New Testament, a name is just a name. What matters most is the character behind the name, the identity that it represents. There are three possible James’ in the New Testament and we always have to clarify who we’re talking about. Not only this, but the middle names of my other two sons are Peter and John, so I had to complete the triad.
As you may expect, my children all have Chinese names too. Zechariah James Hollins’ Chinese name is周志竭. In the phonetical “pinyin” spelling of his name that is, “Zhōu zhì jié.” 周 “Zhou”, is my Chinese family name. And the given name 志竭 “zhì jié” was first chosen because of the first letters Z J, for Zechariah James. But the meaning here is also significant to us. 志 “Zhì” comes from the Chinese word 立志 “Lìzhì”, which means “resolve” or “determination.” And竭“jié” comes from the word竭诚 “Jiéchéng”, which means “dedication” or “whole-heartedness” found in the phrase竭诚为主, used in worship for dedicating yourself to the Lord. Together his name indicates the sincere resolve one has to be dedicated to the Lord. Perhaps a few verses that have the words志 “zhì” and竭 “jié” in them might shed more light onto its meaning:
以斯拉记 – 第 7 章 第 10 节 – 以斯拉定志考究遵行耶和华的律法，又将律例典章教训以色列人。
Ezra 7:10 “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”
但以理书 – 第 1 章 第 8 节 – 但以理却立志不以王的膳和王所饮的酒玷污自己，
Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.”
歌罗西书 – 第 1 章 第 29 节 – 我也为此劳苦，照着他在我里面运用的大能，尽心竭力。
Colossians 1:29 “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”
提摩太后书 – 第 2 章 第 15 节 – 你当竭力，在神面前得蒙喜悦，作无愧的工人，按着正意分解真理的道。
2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
希伯来书 – 第 4 章 第 11 节 – 所以我们务必竭力进入那安息，免得有人学那不信从的样子跌倒了。
Hebrews 4:11 “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”
I could hope for nothing more than that my son would have great resolve and conviction as he perseveres to sincerely follow our Lord with all of his energy.