Saturday, October 24, 2009
John Napier was a famous mathematician and theologian who lived in Scotland between the years 1550 and 1617. As the seventh Laird of Merchiston, he was known for his wealth as well as his intelligence. He published many theological and mathematical works that awed his readers. He was the inventor of logarithms, and divining rods that were used as multiplication tables. John’s grandson, Dr. Patrick Napier, immigrated to the new colony in Virginia, where he was a surgeon at Jamestown.
Patrick Henry, who lived from 1736 to 1799, was that famous American patriot who gave the speech that ended with “Give me liberty, or give me death!” He was one of the great minds that inspired the American Revolution. Patrick Henry lived at Red Hill in Charlotte County, and Scotchtown in Hanover County. I was fortunate enough to live near each of these at different times in my life.
Chief Red Bird (aka Aaron Brock) was a Cherokee Indian who lived in what is now known as Clay County, Kentucky, in the late 1700s. When fighting broke out between Indians and European settlers, Red Bird sought peace. As a result, he and a friend were brutally tomahawked to death. Their deaths almost started a war, with the French and Indians on one side, and the Americans on the other. The war was averted by treaties, which were later broken by the whites.
Phoebe Moses was a young sharp-shooting performer who was born in Darke County, Ohio, in 1860. Changing her name to Annie Oakley, she amazed audiences throughout Europe and America. Once, she shot the ashes from the cigarette of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Joining Colonel Cody’s Wild West Show, she became known as Little Sure Shot, and performed with Buffalo Bill Cody and Sitting Bull.
What do all these characters from history have in common? Me! I am directly related to each of them—and I’m proud of it! But I have to keep my family in proper perspective. While the past is something to celebrate, it cannot save me—now matter how interesting my ancestors may have been.
In the book of Philippians, Paul bragged that he was a Hebrew of Hebrews—blameless according the Law, a follower of tradition, a citizen of both Israel and Rome. He had quite a pedigree, but he said, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done… Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (3:7, 13-14).”
It’s tempting to either let your past bog you down, or to try to ride its coattails into glory. Christians must do neither of these things. Instead, we must press on to the future that God has in store for us. Is your past holding you bound? Release it to God. Have you relied on your heritage for your salvation, rather than trusting in Christ to save you? Reach, instead, for God. Only by pressing on can you free yourself of the past and reach the blessings of the future.