Last Friday morning, Axia Jane Denison was born. “Axia” (pronounced “Eg-zay-ah”) means “value and worth.” “Jane” means “God’s gracious gift.” She has lived up to both her names already.
Axia Jane is the first child of our first child, born to our son Ryan and his wife Candice last Friday morning. My wife and I are certain that she is the most beautiful grandchild ever born. I waited until today’s Cultural Commentary to tell you about her, since Janet writes a blog on Tuesday mornings and we wanted both our essays to announce our blessed news.
Last Sunday morning, we gathered in the hospital room for a time of thanksgiving and commitment. We thanked God for Axia Jane. Then we asked our Father to send his protecting angels to guard her and prayed for his “good, pleasing and perfect will” for her life (Romans 12:2). We claimed the fact that the omnipotent Lord has a plan to prosper her and not to harm her, to give her hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Then I held her in my arms and prayed over her Aaron’s blessing for the people of God: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26). As I prayed these ancient words, I thought about a fascinating archaeological discovery that seemed beautifully relevant to the moment.
In 1979-80, my good friend Mike Fanning was part of an excavation in Jerusalem led by the eminent Gabriel Barkay. A student digging near him found what appeared to be an ancient amulet. A second amulet was found in the same area. Both turned out to contain the oldest portion of Scripture ever discovered, predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by several centuries. Their text was the Priestly Benediction of Numbers 6. These words of invocation were inscribed on a woman’s item of jewelry and hung around her neck. They are now on display in the Israel Museum—I pause to admire them every time I visit.
I imagined Axia Jane wearing such an amulet around her tiny neck, its words of blessing displayed where all could see them. Later I reread the biblical text and found its next verse: “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:27). Today I am asking the Lord to put his name on my granddaughter and bless her with his providential protection and peace.
Wise King Solomon observed that “children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Before God made the first man and woman, he knew he would one day make you. Your life, like theirs, is a miracle from your Maker. You are here not by chance or chaos, but by creative providence.
As my family and I have dedicated Axia Jane to her Creator, so I renew the commitment of my life to him as well. Will you join me?