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Scalawags and Heros: a glimpse at our family genealogy

July 8, 2012


Some of the most amazing redemption stories are found in the lives of people with little known names. You won’t meet some of these treasured folks until life in this world is over. But, I’d like to “introduce you” to a few that God has woven into my life to show me part of who He is. But, I forewarn you – these human redemption lessons do come in strange, unusual packages sometimes.

Part of the great fun of gathering with family is the retelling of the tales of family ancestors. (We reviewed some of these stories as we celebrated my dad’s 90th birthday recently.)


From the most famous and honorable Mentor Graham, teacher of Abraham Lincoln, to the scalawag riverboat captain, Joe Graham, who stole his son’s inheritance, the genealogy is far from boring. There were the “creative cattlemen” who were invited to leave Scotland, the uncle who trusted a newspaperman who then stole the treasured Civil War sword, the great grandfather who entertained his grandson at the country fair, and the World War II Marine who received a citation for courage because he “stood by his gun” on Iwo Jima after it suffered a direct hit and wounded most of his gun crew (That was my dad.)


Fortunately, our genetic pool produces gifted storytellers so the painting of our family history remains vividly colorful.  


When my One Year Bible takes me through genealogies, I don’t always expect much color – I’m often tempted to skim – ok, speed skim. But, I’ve begun to realize that tucked away in the genealogies of Scripture are intriguing snippets like the part that lists the children of Pharaoh’s daughter Bithiah “whom Mered had married.” What?!?!? How did Mered even encounter an Egyptian princess, let alone marry her? That just make my brain itch to know the rest of the story.

Some genealogical descriptions make me want to live alongside people: They found rich, good pasture, and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet. Some make me glad to be far away: he [misbehaved] (you’ll have to read the details of I Chronicles for yourself) and his rights as firstborn were given to the sons [of his brother] so he could not be listed in the genealogical record.


The Biblical genealogies prove again  and again that some ancestors are easier to claim than others. And sometimes the connections are easier to follow than others. In our family heritage conversations, the infamous discussion still rages on to decide if it’s a third cousin or a second cousin once removed.

But we are all connected, connected by one common truth: God orchestrates our stories to reveal Himself as Lord. Even the still-living generations bring their ever unfolding (and incredibly diverse) redemption stories to the gathering.

   We have our cowboys and our city folks, our preachers and our doubters, our fourth generation at-the-same-place and our travelers, our artists and our spreadsheet masters — and our Second Hand Lions.


Every life story in the genealogy reveals to us the character of our God: He is faithful, He is powerful, He delights in all kinds of people, His plans cannot be thwarted, He is surprising in His ways …


And He is showing His persevering love through both heroes and scalawags.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather permalink
    July 10, 2012 2:18 pm

    Love this! Love to read your writings and musings. Love you friend!

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