"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lent Day 21 - Tuesday

“Therefore, since we have such a  great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside everything that weighs us down, and the sin that holds us captive, and let us run with endurance the race that is before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

  In my home office, one wall is completely covered with pictures of my family and ancestors going back for (at least) five generations. I have a picture of my (4x) great-grandfather whose father came to New Jersey from France in the late 1700s. This is the line where my middle name of DeHart came from. I also have pictures and documents of my Jakob Price (Pryce) and Hans Herr side that lived from Lancaster County, PA where my Mennonite and Brethren side derived. That line goes back to the 1500’s in Germany. As far as the Cochran and Anderson side, their pictures are on my wall and several binders of documentation about all branches of my family sit on the table beneath these pictures.

  I am proud of my ancestry and of the heritage from which I come. There are quite a few rascals and scoundrels in my tree, but also, many men and women of faith, courage and determination. I look so forward to getting to heaven where I can finally meet these people who made their marks on much of this country in their lives and continue to today through the current generations.

  When I spend time in that room writing, watching television, reading or snoozing, it is impossible to avoid their eyes. After many years of research, I know their stories and their lives; they are as real to me as if they were in the next room. Over the past several years, it has been a privilege to travel to New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and see the progression of their moves and so many of their houses and towns are still standing. Even the Herr house in Pennsylvania which was built in the 1600’s by Christiann Herr is still there and I’ve been able to visit inside it and walk the grounds. These are the people to whom I feel much accountability. I feel them watching as I study and write. They see me when I get frustrated at writer’s block and I can sense them spurring me on to use a gift God has given me.

  Ancestors aside, other living people are watching us every day. They know we are Christians and are forming an opinion about Christianity solely from us. When we lose our temper at the office. When we make fun of someone at school. As we drive like a maniac on the highways (especially if you have one of those fish symbols on your car….and, that’s why I don’t). As I learned in Sunday School as a small boy, “I am the best Christian that someone knows.” That phrase alone can keep you humble!

  Not only are your co-workers, neighbors, school mates, even strangers watching you, but that cloud of witnesses spoken of also includes all the great people of faith who have gone on before. Abraham. Moses. Jacob. Joseph. David. Paul. Peter. JESUS. Are they pleased with how I go through my daily life? With you as you go through your daily life? That’s for me to continue working on these next days.  As the wonderful hymn goes, “do others see Jesus in you?”

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy. Blessed be the Name of the LORD!


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