That question began sifting through my mind, and I thought about the questions about my husband’s father brought me to search for information about John William Combs. His picture is in our family room, a handsome man with a mustache. His eyes did not tell me the stories of his life, but soon, through the wonders of internet, I learned that John William and his wife, Matilda Jane Burris Combs began their married life in Mount Airy, NC. Living in a log cabin, they brought eight children into this world. I learned that John William was born 18 August 1845 and died 12 October 1905 in Merkel TX, at the age of 60. There are as many stories not uncovered between Mount Airy and Merkel. He made ax handles, and his son Rufus Edgar recorded about the cancer on his knee that caused him much pain as he worked in the cotton fields and finally is death.
As I gathered information about John William Combs and learned about the hardships he endured homesteading, adjusting to a new land, I knew how John William lived his life. I learned about his strength in the face of adversity of illness and his trust in God that he instilled in his eight children.
My Grand Uncle Solomon Loewen compiled a book two inches thick of names of the Isaak Loewen family. That is it, just the names and dates of births, deaths and marriages. He wrote another book I treasure even more….’History and Genealogy of the Jacob Loewen Family‘.
In this book I can find more that statistics but ‘the way things were’ for our ancestors.
As a scientist and biologist, Uncle Sol wrote: A person is much like a tree. Above ground the tree shows its rugged stem, spreading branches and green leaves, all obvious to the passersby. Its characteristic features give the cognizance as to its kind. The invisible part, the root system, also has its unique features by which the plant can be known. In a person, as in a tree, chromosomes and genes give identity peculiar to each individual, tieing the hidden past to the more obvious present. A living person can never dissociate himself biologically from his hidden pastk his ancestors. For a person to fully know himself he needs to discover his heritage…Someone has said that, “The experiences of people of the past is a great untold treasurehouse that can enrich the present generation tremendously…
Uncle Sol’s big sister, Anna Loewen Suderman kept a Journal for many years that contained the stories behind the births and deaths of her own family. She recorded the home remedies she used to care for her family. These words penned by hand tell the stories of faith. Tears come to my eyes as I read my Mother’s journal – a day to day account after the death of my father – as she found her footing in life, again walking without her love beside her.
One day I read the remarkable words that told me ‘Why Genealogy?” In the Message, Eugene Peterson wrote, “Christians have always insisted on the historicity of Jesus – an actual birth, a datable death, a witnessed resurrection, locatable towns. There is a parallel historicity in the followers of Jesus. As they taken in everything Jesus said and did – all of it a personal revelation of God in time and place – it all gets worked into local history, eventually into world history.”
We have the genealogy of Abraham and his children. Why? We have the genealogy of Jesus back to King David. Why? Because as children of God, these are our roots, our foundation. Faith in God makes our lives (leaves) greener. The lives we live and how we face diversities give our children and children’s children direction – either positively or negatively. Chapter 11 of Hebrews gives us a “Hall of Faith” list of people who endured and were faithful to God. The Bible gives us stories of those who stumbled in their faith, were forgiven and redeemed.
The same is true of our earthly families. We see faltering of faith, even our own, during the low times. Then we see parents, children and grandchildren who exemplify living for Jesus. These times bless grandparents and encourages us. Where do we find our strength?
II Timothy 3:16-17 – Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.
Genealogy is more than dates and names, it’s the stories of faith. It is gives us a place in life…a bookmark…to be. Let our lives, as we become the ‘roots’, testify to the greatness of God. Help us to be examples of faith worthy of being included in the “Hall of Faith”.
Hebrews 12 begins: Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit!