Today, my grandfather handed me a copy of the Arnold family tree. He’s been working on it for years, but this project has consumed him for the last few months. To be perfectly honest, the family tree is only marginally interesting to me, but there is a fascinating side note. The branches of the tree spread all the way back to 558 BC, and there are brushes with history and legend throughout.
One ancestor was arrested and hanged for high treason against the British government in the days when the seeds of the American Revolution were being planted. Another is what more than a few scholars say is the historical basis for the King Arthur legends. Further back is a man known as “Old King Coel (sic).” Another name in the lineage is the first Roman Emporer to officially recognize Christianity in the Empire. It’s truly staggering, humbling stuff.
What is of the greatest interest to me is the identification of a heritage. For so long it’s been easy to speculate, to say “We think…” or “I’m pretty sure…” but now we have a proven history, and it was one I certainly didn’t know about. My grandfather’s family is from Wales.
Now, I have to admit, I know practically nothing about Wales or it’s people. I’ve always felt like I knew a good bit about the people of the British Isles, but the Welsh are a new discovery for me. I’ve been trying to see what I can get my hands on to learn about Wales. I’m slowly but determinedly reading John Davies’ A History Of Wales, but it’s so think and dense with information that it’s an often difficult read. (…imagine reading a textbook out of choice…) I’ve explored some websites and considered buying other books. I’ve even had an email conversation with a professor at Aberystwyth University and had a question answered on a reference site for Welsh history and culture. It’s an effort to dig into where my family came from…or at least part of it…
I’ll keep everyone posted on how it goes. Hopefully, this is a quest that will yield rewards for me.
As humbling as it is to discover kings and emperors in your past, it’s inspiring to consider how I fit into that history. In the All Staff Meeting last week, Scott talked about the kings of Israel and how the nation’s spiritual prosperity rose and fall on the kings, and he related that idea to us and to our ministries. He said, “you may not have ‘king’ by your name, but you are the king of your area of ministry. You have influence over those in your life.” It’s true. God has a purpose for all of us, and I pray that I fulfill mine. If I do so, I will be a true honor to those who have gone before me…not just the Kings of Gwent and Morgannwg in Wales, but the “great cloud of witnesses” who have walked the path of God’s favor.