They say I came from “good stock.”
I look at the old photographs in the guest room — black-and-white snapshots of the bearers of my DNA. Here, I see framed reflections of myself:
my nearly-black hair in Grandma Dukes;
my temper in Grandpa Taylor;
my love of words,
my fear of failure,
my soft heart,
my easily-bruised pride.
They weren’t perfect people. But they are my people. They’ve helped make me who I am — by their genetics, their guiding influence or both.
They were ordinary, hard-working men who tilled soil, went to war as boys, and came home as men. They were moms who scraped together meals from half-bare cupboards, and stored up faith needed during tough times.
Yes, when it comes to genealogy, my family tree is like a sturdy oak — reliable, hearty and rooted deeply.
My husband and I have been talking about what we pass down to our children — and what has been passed down to us. We’ve both been blessed by families with a heritage of faith and hard work.
But what about those who came from “bad stock?” Is there any hope for them?
The world says that generational influences hold irreversible sway over our lives. We’ve even got the cliches to prove it:
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“Like mother, like daughter.”
“She’s a chip off the old block.”
The message is this:
If you come from good stock, congratulations on your inheritance.
And if you come from bad stock? Tough luck, buddy.
But what if our ancestral destiny were reversible? What if we could be the one who changed things?
All of this leads me to the story of a man I know. This man came from seriously bad stock. If you look at his family tree of misfits, you’d wonder how he ever came out on top.
But he did.
Here’s his story:
If any guy had generational baggage, this was the guy. By the world’s standards, he was a loser — destined for failure well before his unmarried, teenage mother had her first labor pains.
His dysfunctional family included a prostitute and a guy who practiced witchcraft. One of his forefathers had an affair then arranged for the murder of her husband. And there were a whole string of other liars and cheaters in my friend’s bloodline.
The man I know spent much of his life homeless. Some of his friends were of questionable character. As you might imagine, he was the object of much ridicule, scorn and rejection. Some might call him ugly, though I disagree. (Maybe that’s just because I love this guy so much.)
His story ended when he was killed — execution-style — on a hill.
Maybe you know him, too.
He is proof that no family tree binds so tightly that its grip can’t be loosed by a tree on Calvary.
His name is Jesus.
And look at you: You’re a chip off the old block.
“In love, he predestined us
to be adopted as his sons
through Jesus Christ.” … Eph. 1:5
In Christ Jesus, there is no such thing as an irreversible destiny.
Photo: A lineup of my family tree, on a guest-room dresser top.
A glimpse into a few branches of Jesus’ dysfunctional family tree: Gen. 27:19; 2 Sam. 11; Joshua 2:1; 2 Chron. 33:6; Isaiah 53:2
His genealogy is found in: