Friday, January 5, 2007

Graveyards and Genealogies

I love to stroll through graveyards or study genealogies. It is not that I have a morbid fascination with death…but rather that I have a deep interest in life stories. Graveyards and genealogies point out that there is an end to every life story…at some point the last chapter is written and the book is closed. Then only the question remains… what message is left for those who remember??
When I wander through a graveyard I read the tombstones searching for a clue concerning the life of the person whose name is now etched in stone. I may glean the fact that they were a wife or a mother , whether they died in their youth , in childbirth, or in old age, sometimes there may be a phrase added beneath their name , or perhaps a favorite scripture verse or saying. Sometimes the stone is overgrown with moss and I wonder , is there no one who remembers them?

Just as I search for clues on a tombstone I have also sometimes found things of interest in a genealogy list.
Years before Jabez became a household name through Wilkerson’s book, I had discovered him tucked away in the middle of the genealogy recorded in I Chronicles 4.
There are several things that strike me about Jabez that are still a message to us…. thousands of years later.
First Jabez seems to be pulled out of obscurity… we are not even told who his parents are…even though the brief mention of him is sandwiched in the midst of a list of begats. He seems to come from an unknown or insignificant family , perhaps even a family from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ judging from the fact that he is said to be more honorable than his brethren. And to add to the picture of a less than ideal family we are told that his mother named him Jabez ( meaning- born in pain) because she bore him in sorrow. Jabez could have joined his brethren in their worthless pursuits but Jabez desired to be different. He could have lived his life in self-absorption. He could have determined to give as he got…to get even , to demand what he deserved, to get back what he had been denied. But instead Jabez chooses the opposite , and shines bright enough to warrant a special place in God’s His-story…
Jabez obviously had a sensitive heart. He wanted to rise above the sorrow covering his life and asked that God keep him from evil so that he would not live in regret. I believe that Jabez was someone who used his name as a reminder not to bring sorrow or pain into the lives of others.
The fact that we are told God answered his prayer communicates to us that Jabez pleased God in his request and in his life.

The message that Jabez leaves for us is that it doesn’t matter how unprivileged we are at birth or what life deals us in terms of sorrow or hardship … we can rise above it and make our life count in the eyes of God and cause our life to be a blessing to those around us. And a very special encouragement Jabez leaves for us is that God truly is not a respecter of persons… He does hear and answer the prayers of anyone seeking Him.

When I get to heaven Jabez is one of the people I want to look up and have a conversation with. I want to know all about his life …what did he do, where did he live, who did he marry , how many children did he have… what did he think about, and how did he know God. All I have now is the dust jacket from the book of his life.. but one day I will hear the whole story.

1 comment:

lovella said...

Hmm, our cousin kindred relationship is sometimes suprising. I too find a walk through a graveyard quite fascinating. We will need an eternity to have our curiosity put to rest of those that have gone before us.
I'm thinking that perhaps I should separate your blog from the others in my link list so that it can be easily identified as a devotional. Any thoughts?