We've been on the road - my favorite thing! We went to Missouri to minister in a congregation and then drove across the state to the eastern side to meet up with my sister and her husband on what is now called a "genealogy trip." It was a marvelous, profound time of discovering many of our ancestors on my mother's side -- who they were and how they shaped who we are. We had some letters and documents left by our mother, including a letter dictated by our great-great grandmother Catherine Herzinger, and written in our grandmother's hand. She told of her life near the Mississippi River in the 1860s. Her story came alive to us in vivid color and we could imagine her terror on the night during the civil war when soldiers came and raided the house, taking all the food, clothing and valuables that they owned - except one $10 bill that her mother had sewn into a pillow! She spoke of her husband, a shoemaker, who met some of the Indians coming across the river in mid-winter during the Trail of Tears, and got them shoes to keep feet warm and dry.
When we found Great-great grandmother Herzinger's grave and tombstone we wept, because we felt we had known her; and because only five words were written below her name and dates: "I have kept the faith." That touched me deeply. Her family (whose names also included Stein and Halter) were immigrants from Germany, and most likely Jewish. So whether Jewish or Christian, it did not matter to me. She was brave and courageous and loved the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She and her husband showed mercy and kindness to the Native Americans. And I felt one step closer to knowing why every cell in my body jumps when I hear the shofar sound!
A few people told me that the bible says we should not spend time on genealogies. I think this is a misunderstanding of Titus 3:9, which cautions us not to argue and quarrel about the Torah. If we stop and think about it, the Bible, especially the Torah, is a book of genealogies, a composite of records and stories of the family of God! It seems to me that this is a cherished and important part of His heart, to record the people and the places of the Israelites and to tell their stories from generation to generation. They are part of who we are, and whom we have become, as God's own.
Just before we left on this trip, I had a very vivid dream. It was so powerfully strong that I pondered it for many days to seek the full meaning. The dream was brief and included two very opposing scenes. In the first, I was in a big room filled with people and there was a pastor in the front of the room. He was in deep travail, weeping and repenting, and eventually falling on his face, so deep was his sorrowful repentance. The Holy Spirit began moving all of us in the room to enter into this deep repentance, and I remember that I was moved to the core and weeping deeply myself. Then I left that room and walked down the hall to enter another room. I remember that I thought this was the "restroom," but when I got inside, I realized it was another very large room and this time it was filled with people having a huge, raucous party. Some had party hats on and they were all prancing around and celebrating. But what was really strange was that I saw donkeys in the room who were doing back-flips! They too were laughing a strange laugh and then flipping over backwards. Immediately I woke up, and at first I tried to remember if I'd had pizza for dinner! I had not. The dream began to sink in as I initially recognized the deeply divided world we live in. One room was filled with deep worship of God and sincere repentance of sin; the other room filled with fleshly party-goers who don't care about God, feel no need to repent, and just want to have a good time with what the world has to offer. A few days later, still pondering the dream, I told it to John and he remarked, "Kelly, don't you know that donkeys represent Democrats?" I hadn't thought of that! I hadn't given it a political viewpoint. But undeniably, that schism is very real, and the two rooms told a very real story of this divided nation.
We remain in prayer. We repent and intercede for those who will not. We stay in the Word and learn the lessons of those who went before us, and like my great-great grandmother we hope that one day on our tomb stone it will say, "I have kept the faith."
Kelly Ferrari Mills