before the sun goes down

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in His sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Delight by No Other Name - Tirzah Carmichael

On the 26th day of November, 2011, we met our firstborn child.  When it was announced that she was a girl, Deana and I were flooded with emotion.  Our own little Tirzah Carmichael Myers!  Now she is three years old, and such a treasure!

Often when we are introducing our family, people ask where we got the name "Tirzah".  This affords a wonderful chance to share.  The name comes from the Bible.  Each of our children have been given Bible names, and I love to tell about their origin.  I especially delight in the lesser known Bible people, those which many are not familiar.  Many times we can get the idea that we know all the stories and characters in the Scriptures, so it is profitable to be reminded and encouraged to dig deeper.

The name Tirzah is found 18 times in the word of God.  It is a proper Hebrew name with the meaning "Delight, Delightful, Delightsomeness".  (Besides being found in Scripture, it was the name chosen by Lew Wallace for the sister of Judah in the classic novel, Ben Hur.)  In the Bible, we find Tirzah the girl, and Tirzah the city. 

First, we find her name in the book of Numbers as one of (and probably the youngest of) five daughters of a man named Zelophehad.  Numbers 26:33 "And Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters: and the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah."

In the next chapter (Numbers 27:1-11), we see her approach Moses along with her sisters, making an appeal concerning the inheritance and possession of their father now deceased.  Moses brought their petition before the LORD, and God responded that "the daughters of Zelophehad speak right..." (Numbers 27:7).  Their wise appeal created a precedent that protected the concerns of family, property, and possession for the whole nation of Israel. (If England had adopted that statute, the Bennett family would not have faced entailment away from their five daughters, but then of course, we would not have the story of Pride and Prejudice, would we?)  

We find these same five daughters featured again at the end of that book, where we hear of their marriages (Numbers 36:1-13): "...For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married...And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father..."

Finally, we find them in the land, as the tribes of Israel are taking possession of the Promised Land. Joshua 17:3-6 "But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters: and these are the names of his daughters, Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.  And they came near before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua the son of Nun, and before the princes, saying, The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren.  Therefore according to the commandment of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father..."  What a fitting last mention, as we see the LORD giving them the desires of their heart as they committed their way unto Him!

We desire that our little Tirzah would also learn to make wise appeals and speak what is right.

The other times we find this name, it is speaking of a city, the City of Tirzah. 
It was a name of a royal city, which was conquered by Joshua (Joshua 12:24).
The city of Tirzah in Ephraim was chosen to be the capitol city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel when the kingdom was divided.  From the reign of Jeroboam through to the half point of Omri's 12 years, it was the city of kings (I Kings 14:17; 15:21,33; 16:6,8,9,15,17,23).  It continued to be a city of influence at least until the reign of the rebel king Menahem ten kings after Omri (II Kings 15:14-16).  The city of Tirzah evidently was a delightful place.  To have been chosen out of all the cities of the northern ten tribes, it must have been a place of beauty (being well situated, pleasant to look upon, and with impressive architecture) and strength (being defensible, with walls and towers).  Even before the nation divided, King Solomon likened its attractiveness and charm to the beauty of his beloved wife in Song of Solomon 6:4 "Thou are beautiful, my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem...".

We desire for our daughter Tirzah to be beautiful, inside and out, with strength, as she allows the true King to dwell and reign within her heart. 

From the beginning, we planned to also give our children names of faithful missionaries, in order to inspire and challenge them to exploits for Christ.  Tirzah's middle name is Carmichael, after Amy Carmichael (AD 1867-1951), the amazing Irish missionary to India, who heroically rescued hundreds of young women, and little girls and boys from temple slavery.  The life, ministry, and writings of this devoted and selfless emissary of the cross of Christ has been a challenge and encouragement to both of us, especially to Deana.  

Here are some quotes from Amy Carmichael:

"He said ' I have loved you.'  We cannot love too much."

"We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could."

"I wish Thy way. 
And when in me myself should rise, and long for something otherwise,
Then Lord, take sword and spear
And slay."

"The word comfort is from two Latin words meaning 'with' and 'strong'--He is with us to make us strong.  Comfort is not soft, weakening commiseration; it is true, strengthening love."

"Can we follow the Saviour far, who have no wound or scar?"

"All along, let us remember we are not asked to understand, but simply to obey..."

We desire for our daughter Tirzah Carmichael to learn to submit to God, and live to see Him glorified, and the lost, the weak, and the vulnerable rescued.  It has been a delight to see her, even as a small child, standing with us at abortion mills, showing care for the babies in danger, and handing information to mothers heading inside.

The name Carmichael has various rendered meanings, such as "Child of Michael", "Friend of Michael", "Follower of Michael", and "Fort of Michael" (the prefix Car, coming from Caer "fort").  I have always liked the name Michael, as it is the middle name of my brother Bryan.  The name Michael is Hebrew and means "Who is like God?"  It is actually a question. The answer is, of course, there is no one like the true and living God, the God of the Bible.

We desire for our daughter to know God and became His child through faith unto salvation, to live as His friend, following Jesus faithfully.  We pray for the Lord Who is like no one else to be her Defense, her All in all.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Hands, Heart, and Heritage of my Grandfather, Ben Markley!

Yesterday was the 91st birthday of my mother's father.  He was named after his father, and several of his descendants also bear the name Benjamin, "son of the right hand." I am proud to be one of them! Benjamin Russell Markley, Jr. is to me, and others of his kith and kin, a tremendous blessing; a peaceful hero; a quiet servant who thinks little of himself, and pours out for others; a walker with God.  He is a man who has lived a strenuous life, intensely given to God and family.  His life has been a testimony of God's faithfulness. This man exudes with dedication to the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  He embodies, truth, humility, and love in action--incorrigible in his desire to be there for people in need.

When I think of my grandfather,
I see what the proverbs call "the hand of the diligent" (Proverbs 10:4; 12:22).
   Hands that are brown from both Cherokee blood and work in the sun, scarred and calloused from laboring for others, aged but still surprisingly strong.
   Those hands that worked machinery, that seemed to handle every tool with ease and dexterity, that tousled my hair, that lifted me onto the telephone books on the chair at the table, that handed me my first rubberband gun, that he used when telling a story, that led singing with great animation, that provided for his family, that tenderly held his wife throughout life, and that carried his Bible with care and familiarity.  Those hands upon my little shoulders.  Those hands that he would raise, both of them, whenever he was waving good-bye as we drove away.
   Grandpa was one of the men who taught me to "fear God and work hard," as David Livingstone said.  Those hands were ever available to aid his neighbors, and just about everyone WAS his neighbor.  I hardly remember a visit as a child, that Grandpa didn't put me in his old green truck to help him pick up sticks, or rake someone's yard, or cut wood, etc., for others in need.  Even just a few weeks ago He proved this to be true during clean up at a family reunion.  When somebody mentioned taking some chairs to a pickup truck Grandpa beat me to the remaining chairs, taking FOUR of them, leaving me with ONE!

When I think of my grandfather,
I see what the proverbs call the "light of the eyes" (Proverbs 15:30)
Eyes that I have seen light up with humor, shine while teaching the Scriptures, blur with emotion about those he loves, grow firm with chastening and correction, darken with indignation at injustice, and soften with manly gentleness.  His eyes always were in harmony with his voice, and as a child, I love looking into those Cherokee Brown eyes that mirrored my own.  Grandpa's eyes had a way of looking into yours, a manner about him that set one at ease, but commanded honesty.

   One word that well describes Grandpa Markley is meekness.  Meekness is NOT weakness.  It is strength under control.  A wild stallion has great strength, but it does not aid mankind unless it yields control to someone else.  Grandpa's strength was harnessed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and he willingly submitted to his Master, to give to the Lord and others, and continues in the same spirit today.

   I cherish his story-telling.  How I loved to hear of our ancestors--Cherokees, homesteaders, blacksmiths, and circuit riding preachers among them.  The adventures they had, and the challenges they overcame!  There were lessons to be learned from their lives, and warnings too.  And I wish that I knew more. One of the most treasured accounts he told me was how he got saved, as a boy of 12, and how God propelled him from salvation to service in teaching and preaching very quickly.  How he learned to love and study the Bible, and invest in the lives of the rowdy boys he taught in Sunday School as a youth of 16.

Grandpa delights in the Lord, and in his family, and especially in seeing his descendants following the Lord in their lives!  I am always intensely moved when this great man in my life, one whom I greatly esteem, comes up to me and humbly takes my hand in his, grips it firmly, looks me in the eye and tells me he is grateful for me, and prays for me and my family, and the way the Lord is leading us.  He prays for all his household, and like Mordecai, can be described as "speaking peace to all his seed" (Esther 10:3).  Brethren, let us each not only take the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, but may we each walk with the Lord in the light of His word.  May we not neglect to pass on the heritage we have received.  "Let us not remove the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set" (Proverbs 22:28).

There are so many memories that I didn't mention.  Any one else who is of the ranks of family and friends of Ben Markley, I am sure, have stories, remembrances, and such of their own are welcome to comment to add them for the benefit of all who read.

Suffice it for me to say, I am grateful for my Grandpa Markley.  He's Ben.  He's "Ben" Grandpa all my life.  And I love him.