Friday, February 18, 2011

The Dash Between the Years

After researching many lines of my family tree (and realizing some even cross a little yikes!) I've come across a discovery that truly delighted my spirit.  It wasn't the line I was able to trace back to 160 AD (mind boggling!); It wasn't the fact Charlamagne or Chaucer is in my lineage; it wasn't the fact I'm distant cousins to Laura Ingalls Wilder (so cool!), Carey Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn, half a dozen US presidents, Helen Keller, Jane Austen, and other celebrities and politicians of varying fame; the thing that excited me the most was the following which was written in a letter about a great-great-great-great grandfather of mine, Elam Stevenson:

"He married my paternal grandfather's sister, Lydia PAYNE, in North Carolina. I knew him well, and he was one of God's noblemen; pure as a woman, polite as Chesterfield, simple as a child, genial in disposition, and lived and died without a stain upon his character. Grand old man. My last visit to him at his son Mack's, when on his dying bed, is one of the sweetest memories of my life. This world grows very few men like him now".

"He was licensed to preach in 1813, and came to Tennessee that year, settling near Bee Springs. He attended the second campmeeting at this place and many subsequent meetings. Four of his sons were Methodist preachers. Peter RANDOLPH, a wag of this place for years, said that he had been called to preach seven times, but before he could accept, a STEPHENSON answered the call. "

I don't know about you but to have great-parents who were serving God during America's second great awakening is just plain exciting.  To think of the souls that were saved during their ministries lifts my spirit and spurs me to live up to their efforts.  The legacy of Elam Stevenson and his decedents who also accepted the call to preach will last far longer than any royal line or celebrity connection, in fact Elam's son saw 1000 conversions in just one year of preaching, and Elam saw 120 in just 12 days.  How many more thousands will be in heaven because of the faithfulness of this one man?

With every ancestor I enter on our family tree there is a dash between the year they were born and the year they die.  Ultimately what we do with that dash is what will matter.  In the end it's not kingdoms ruled, movies made, books written, lands conquered, properties owned or money in the bank.  In the end what matters is that we choose to follow  Christ and share him with others. 

I hope and pray that the Stevenson legacy will continue in my home and for generations.  I pray that my family may be a part of the expansion of God's kingdom in a mighty way like they were.

 Quite frankly I think it's high time for America's third Great Awakening, and hopefully my family can be a part of it!

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