On second thought that’s the wrong title. The title should be “getting to the root of it” because the question asked is “how far back can you go in your family tree?” So I am looking for my roots, which will take some digging, so to speak. The branches of my family tree are in plain sight, but its roots are hidden from view and from memory as well. Finding my family tree’s roots will require uncovering what is hidden. Or will it?
It occurs to me I have known the answer to this question all along. I’m going to go out on a limb (pun intended) and say my family tree goes back to Adam and Eve. Then I realize this branch is long gone and I’m going to need to find another limb upon which to stand. You see, there was this flood and everyone died – except for this man named Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. Noah had believed God and been brave enough and obedient enough to build a huge boat on dry land with no water in sight and no memory of it ever having rained upon the earth previously. That’s either foolishness or faithfulness. Turns out it was the latter.
At this point I want to claim victory and say I’ve won the tree climbing or root digging or tree tracing contest. I can trace my family tree all the way back to Noah! Then I realize, so can everyone else alive today. There is one race – the human race. Saying we are all brothers and sisters is more than just a metaphor or sappy song lyrics. It’s actually true! Time and geographical distance have produced many languages, customs of dress and food, nationalities as countries came into being and differences in physical characteristics – but we are all fruit of the same tree.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)
Wow! My roots are right there in plain sight. I am created in God’s image. He is my Heavenly Father. Today, many are engaged in a search for their roots, hoping that when they learn where they came from, this knowledge will guide them to where they are going and give them a sense of meaning and purpose along the way. Knowing whose I am, does provide me that sense of belonging and identity that we all seek. It is important for each of us to know that we were created on purpose, for a purpose. These words from Psalm 139 remind me that this is true.
“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.” (Psalm 139:13-16)
As a child of God, I am part of a living, growing family tree that reaches into eternity. I belong to this eternal family – I have a place in it. Psalm 68:4-6 tells me,
“His name is the Lord – and rejoice before Him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families,”
Is it surprising or even shocking to discover that we are all related? If we have been focusing solely on our differences to the exclusion of all our similarities, we might be surprised to discover we share the same roots and are created in the same image – God’s. Each one of us is God’s “handiwork” or “masterpiece” as Ephesians 2:10 says. Seems ironic, that many today are searching, hoping to discover through genetics, family members they might be missing – while our family tree is all around us. Culture wants us to focus on our differences. Christ came to call us together as His dearly beloved children, whom He gave His life to redeem.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
In tracing our what we think are individual trees, we discover we share our roots with everyone. They are roots common to us all – we are human beings created in God’s image from the dust of the earth. If only we could see each other the way our Creator God sees us.
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
And our hearts are all the same – all created by God, for God.
“He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Searches for one’s roots are at their root searches for connection and belonging. Writing this has reminded me once again that we are all inextricably connected, whether we want to be or not. I am surrounded by brothers and sisters who are more like me than I will ever know if I never look beyond the outward appearance of the people I come in contact with every day. Other countries, other cultures, those that speak a different language? We all have the same Heavenly Father whose image we bear. If only we could recognize that image in each other. We are related for eternity! Might as well get to know each other now.
Surprisingly, it turns out there is only one family tree – the family of humankind. Lots of different branches – but all fed from the same root – the Root of Jesse – who is the Messiah – who is Jesus. Jesus, is also called the True Vine – we are the branches on this Vine – producing fruit as we live connected to the eternal, living Vine. But that’s a post for another day. Whether a tree or a vine, we are all connected to each other in more ways than we could ever imagine. Guess I’ll spend what time I have left looking for those commonalities and connections rather than the divisions forced upon us by culture or convention.
“You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26)
sincerely, Grace Day