Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor
My wife recently did a DNA test. Ancestry.com was running a special, and since she doesn’t buy jack squat at regular price, she decided to go for it.
All of her life she’d heard that someone back in her lineage was Native American, and was told that was the genetic reason for her high cheekbones and dark complexion. Her dad was a big red-faced man, that she described to me before i met him as looking like Chief Wahoo on the Cleveland Indians’ baseball caps, and that fit into the story arc, even though both of her sisters were much lighter skinned. Everyone reasoned that she must’ve sucked all of the Cherokee blood out of the family roots and left her poor siblings to suffer lives of perpetual sunburns.
So she decided to check it out for herself. She sent in a little tube of saliva and anxiously awaited the results, hoping that enough Native American would show up that we could ‘Elizabeth Warren’ our kids into some great scholarship offers.
The results? English, Scotch and German, with a little Western European mixed in for good measure. ZERO Indian blood. Not a trace. She had been misled about her roots her whole life. In fact, she had more African and Asian than Native American in her DNA.
Community college, make some spots for the Johnston kids!
Some family member has already traced my dad’s lineage back to England in the 1600s. I remember reading through it when i was a kid at all the unrecognizable names since a Mr. Johnston didn’t come into the picture until 1800something, but it was never anything i was all that interested in, personally.
I always had a hard time realizing that those names on the paper were actual living, breathing people at one time. That they lived lives in color, not in black and white like old pictures, and were now lost to history. I had a tough time wrapping my mind around the fact that i would one day just be a name on a paper, or nowadays, a website. Just a born date and a death date for the generations to come.
The late, great singer-songwriter Steve Goodman said it this way:
The day you’re born they sign a piece of paper
That will certify the date of your birth
And the day you die they sign another
Just to prove you’ve gone back to the earth
And between those two pieces of paper
There is the truth that is so hard to find
And the story of your life is written
But you must read in between the lines
A couple of years ago, Stonepoint did a sermon series called “Leave a Legacy” that talked about family trees and how God could change them. So many people say ‘my family is just this way’ or think that because grandpa was an alcoholic, and dad was an alcoholic that it’s somehow their fate to become one as well.
The Bible, however, tells a different story. In fact, it tells multiple stories of folks walking one road in life, meeting Jesus and completely changing their life because of it. In the Apostle Paul’s case, history itself changed because of the encounter.
And Stonepoint Church is full of those kinds of stories, too…people who found Christ and realized that it’s not their destiny to be who the world, or even their own families say they are. That maybe even the way they have always seen themselves is not at all how God sees them, or who He has called them to be. Folks who were a mess and now see themselves as children of God and have a greater calling on their lives are present at every service. In fact, it’s all of us.
We see that family trees can be uprooted by the One who created us and calls us according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 and 29 says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
So how about you? Do you see yourself as simply the product of your DNA, some collection of chromosomes that determine who you are going to be in this world from the time of your arrival until the day someone lays you in the ground?
Or have you accepted Jesus’ call on your life and see your purpose as something greater? Do you see your children and grandchildren as blank canvases for Christ’s words to be written on daily, by you, not by teachers, professors or friends at school, who may not have God’s eternal purpose in their thoughts as they are writing?
Unfortunately, as human beings, we have to constantly remind each other to look at things from an eternal perspective. This world dulls our senses, and numbs our minds to the fact that there is a world greater than our own that awaits us someday.
As a follower of Jesus, you are a child of the most high God, and that’s something a little spit in a tube can’t begin to tell you.
Church, let’s start living like it.