This week I have asked my dear friend and fellow blogger Judy McVean to contribute to this devotional space. Judy is a member of our Westside community and writes regularly for her blog Seeing Sacred. You can access it here. As we have recently been talking about identity, Judy mused about her own grace-based identity with these words: A few years ago I dove into internet research to find out about my family history. It was a way to learn about predecessors I’ve never met and thereby a little more about myself, my roots and the historic influences that shaped our family. It's quite addictive, the genealogy search, and after a week of living bleary-eyed in front of the computer I pulled myself out of the vortex and stowed all I found in a file. I haven't gone near it since – I’m not ready to fall back into its attractive clutches yet!
It's fundamental to our human needs to want to know about ourselves, isn't it? And a key part of that is understanding the people who went before and raised us. Learning ancestor-stories can explain so much, act as a warning and an inspiration, and help us navigate some of the personality quirks we stumble over or the traits that seem to flow from generation to generation. It takes a bit of courage as one never knows what one will find, but there is something instinctive and instructive to our identity in knowing more about our origins.
As I ponder this, I'm reminded that we have a spiritual genealogy, too. I don't know whether you share this belief with me but I believe that God is a parent to us as are our forefathers and mothers; a different kind of parent to be sure ... but a parent still ... and we are invited to lean in to find that love, guidance, forgiveness and grace, await us. Earthly parents, whether our own, or ourselves as parents, will always be found wanting in some way. Some of us have never known our biologic parents. This is the human condition we cannot escape.
But God as Father, Mother, Creator, exists when all other human relationships fail or when family trees come tumbling down. And they do tumble down, don't they? God as parent means we have an identity rooted in the Everlasting as well as the temporal; the spiritual and the earthly. I think this shared sacred genealogy that we have reorients everything - how we see our roots, our families, ourselves, each other and our world. We are created in God's image and carry the Divine fingerprint in our souls. How can this not affect how we live our lives?Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Judy McVean, Seeing Sacred