We may know a great deal about our immediate and extended family.
When looking at more distant and unfamiliar family and our family tree however, we find a tendency to “idealize” and place in “the best light” our forebears and time – distant relatives.
We may pick up a clue here and there of how they lived and what they did. We may know a little of what they were like. Yet by and large we know nothing substantial about them.
Unfortunately or (fortunately) there are some relatives that we know next to nothing about.
We may know when they were born or when they died or where they came from or who they were married to or who their children were. We may also know something of their circumstances.
It is more probable that we will never know nothing about them at all.
As to what sort of people they were or what they believed and thought may very well remain a mystery till the Day of Judgment.
Not knowing better, we tend to paint them as people of hardy and upright stock. Pioneers may be, brave soldiers and loving mothers and fathers, thrifty and the sort to be proud of.
The truth is that people are not as we would like to paint them. As in the title there are a lot of knots and knotholes in most family trees. By this I mean those who were not always very nice people, hard to get along with, a bit strange or to put it bluntly were “kooks.
Some may have over indulged in drink or other vices; some were wastrels and others hard to get along with or bad tempered.
No doubt you could add to this list.
In talking to my relatives over the last few days, I have heard some dark sidelights about some of my long dead relatives that did not paint them in a very good light yet although unknown they may have had things that extenuated the way they were and they may have had good qualities to offset the bad.
We all have skeletons in our closets and black sheep in our families.
We all have known people in whom “darkness” dominated and others who despite their faults were the “salt of the earth”.
It would be true to say that few of our lives can be marked down as singly pure and virtuous, rather in most of us darkness and light, fight for mastery and one or the other seems to be winning at various points in our lives.
Often we will end our lives with others not knowing which side won in the end.
The Puritans used to picture the Christian life as a spark a-float in the midst of the ocean. Sometimes it appears to be drowning and about to be quenched forever yet inexplicably it continues to shine in an environment seeking to overcome it.
Were we able to see into the lives of most Christians, as to the ups and downs of their spiritual state we would see times when sin appears to gain mastery and the upper hand. At other times we would see times of especial closeness to Christ and holiness triumphant.
Still others lead lives of almost unbroken closeness to God while others only draw near to Him in the end and finish in a blaze of His glory.
God alone knows all: we may be up to our neck in sin and going down for the third time but as long as there is a hand above water reaching for Christ there is hope.
It is the fact of God’s Holy Spirit being at work in our life that guarantees victory in the end. He is the factor that ensures the successful completion of Christ’s saving work in the believer’s lives.
Woe betide the man or women who does not place their wholehearted trust in the Lord Jesus Christ because however good a life we lead without him it will end in sorrow .
Let us pray that we and many more will glorify God and believe in Christ and become trophies of His grace.
John Macarthur relates that a man came up to D.L. Moody and said that He counted a great many mistakes in grammar during his message.
Moody replied that as he was not very happy about it himself but as his father had died when he was very young his education was not what it should have been. He also said that he was trying to serve the Lord with all the grammar he possessed.
“And as he ( Christian ) went, he sang, saying,
“Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest
Unto thy Lord, with whom thou shalt be blest,
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights:
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;
For though they killed thee, thou art yet alive””.
D.L. Moody also said “One day you will read in the newspaper that ” D.L. Moody is dead,”
Don’t you believe it! I will be more alive then, than I ever was before.”
May we all be able to say the same by God’s grace. Amen