Naming Ronin

Over the last few days I’ve been watching Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954), the Japanese film that inspired The Magnificent Seven. I’m not much of a movie person, but with 3x monitorings each day I do have plenty of time to build up my knowledge base. (I haven’t watched The Breakfast Club or any of the Terminators, I’ve never finished E.T., and I usually fall asleep during Lord of the Rings – basically, you probably wouldn’t want me on your movie trivia team.)

Although I did feel accomplished for getting through all 3hr, 23m of Seven Samurai – which is subtitled btw – I really only wanted to watch it to get a sense of who the rōnin were. In feudal Japan, a rōnin was a samurai warrior without a master. The Japanese word rōnin (浪人) literally means “wave man,” which gives a sense of the warrior’s wandering nature. In Japanese culture, the rōnin carry a deep history and are revered as symbols of loyalty, courage, and self-sacrifice.

Ray had always liked the name Ronin for a son. I wasn’t totally sold, mostly because I’m 1/2 Japanese and it felt a little cliché. Also because it sounds a lot like Ronon, a character’s name from Stargate Atlantis, this nerdy tv series that Ray has an almost-unhealthy obsession with. But with four girls, it never became an issue.

Hope had been praying for a baby brother since sometime last year, when she had just turned 3. When we found out I was pregnant, Hope was sure it was a boy and for those first few months she’d always call him “Teddy.” The day we first became aware of our baby’s health concerns was the day we also learned that he’s a boy; so initially we had considered naming him Teddy. Especially after learning that it means “gift from God.”

But then, Ronin started feeling like a better fit. Ronin felt stronger. It just needed the right angle.

The samurai were sometimes warriors, but always servants. In Japanese, the word “samurai” roughly translates to “those who serve.” From the worldly view, the idea of being a servant has a connotation of inferiority. But for the samurai, serving was a noble act. And as for our family, we want our love for Christ to be demonstrated by how we serve others humbly in love (Galatians 5:13). 

For us, Ronin’s name means he’s a warrior for God, without a master on earth; a humble servant of Christ.

I don’t know what God has planned for Ronin’s life, but I am coming to realize that all of our lives on earth are only a brief time of preparation for eternity. I’m constantly praying for Ronin’s strength to survive what’s in store for him after birth; I pray that he can live a long, full life of service to the Lord. But I also know that this pregnancy already has allowed me to serve in ways that I otherwise wouldn’t. I trust that God will use this situation to His glory. And no matter what, Ronin will be the seventh member of our family and our house will continue to faithfully serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

P.S. Teddy is his middle name. Hope loves her baby brother so much, we felt it’s only right that she should be involved in naming him.


  1. The strength and depth of you faith in our Almighty Father is demonstrated in the eloquence of your words. May the Lord continue to bless and guide you through life to His Glory.

  2. I love our Ronin.

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