Where Are Your Roots?

By: Marcy Barthelette

Your roots will grow down into God’s love….Ephesians 3:17b

Many of you will know that I’m typically in the business of digging around plant roots but spring is still in a questionable mode so I’m in the trenches with Ken chasing down a different kind of roots, genealogical leads.

Ken’s passion for learning about his past started decades ago, but I have always remained on the sidelines. However, a couple of weeks back, I recalled a box in our garage that held several large ornately framed photos of Ken’s ancestors that we never unpacked after our move back from Florida fifteen years ago. It was time for them to once again see the light of day, if only for a little while. Preserving these treasures digitally became a priority for me.

For some time, I’ve worked sporadically at digitizing all our photos and that’s no small task. With images of those large photos tucked away on a nice little cloud and the originals repacked, I began to consider other old photos in various places that should be preserved as well. Over the next few days, I gathered and quickly reviewed every photo I could find in the house. During that search, an itch I’d had for some time grabbed hold of me again. We lost my maternal grandmother when I was not yet three years old so I have no memory of her except the photos my mom kept. There also were a couple of documents on which I noticed that her name was different. On the one hand, she was Daisy Della Kemp but the other listed her as Della Daisy. I wanted to know which was right.

As one thing led to another I could only make assumptions about my grandmother’s name, but somewhere along the way, I became interested in who I am. I’m still more into preserving the photos and documents we already have than in the painstaking search for centuries of relatives, but Ken and I can embrace this passion together now. And my grandmother’s name is far from being the only name issue we’ve encountered. Ken’s tenth great-grandfather had two daughters named Marie. This was not unusual in those days but what really threw him a curveball was that both of them were married at age twelve. Most people searching the name assumed they were one and the same, but no, they were two different daughters and it becomes clear when you pay attention to birth and death dates. And Ken descended from one of them so accuracy was critical.

And then there’s Ken’s own father who grew to adulthood knowing himself as Arthur Joseph only to learn that he was Joseph Arthur and he had already named his first son Arthur Jr. Names can be very confusing. Perhaps you’ve noticed in biblical times that people often had more than one name. Please tell me, how are we supposed to keep these characters straight? Did you know that Jesus chose two disciples with the name Judas. It was a very common name in those days and while we are all very familiar with one, Judas Iscariot, the other Judas, also known as Thaddeus, is somewhat obscure.

Of the four Biblical lists of the Apostles, two are quoted below as my resource. One refers to Thaddeus while the other shows a second Judas. The remaining two lists follow the same pattern. That doesn’t mean that one is right and the other wrong. The authors simply had different perspectives. Some knew him as Thaddeus and others called him Judas. But historical fact recognizes them as the same person. See what I mean? Records from our past can be very confusing and with all the name-changing and incorrect spellings, it can be very difficult to be certain of one’s family roots. It takes lots of checking and verifying sources. Even then there may be gray areas.

Why am I pointing out this little discussed bit of trivia? Because we all have just a little “Judas” in us. We behave one way in certain situations and very different in others. And sometimes those behaviors betray Jesus.

Just as we can easily be led astray when following trails left by family roots, so can encounters in everyday life deceive us. We often think we know someone when we really don’t. Judas the traitor fooled every one in the inner circle. He was either a very adept con man or something happened along the way to change his loyalties. But Jesus always knew who would betray him. The other Judas (Thaddeus) was innocent of any malice, and was dedicated to Jesus in every way. Jesus knew the hearts of these two men who bore the same name and He loved them both equally. But, as you can see, the Bible accounts below agree that one was destined to betray him. It might just be a good idea to take a good look at where we want to be rooted, on the side of Judas Iscariot or the other Judas.   

Roots are important and I’m certainly not going to betray my interest in garden roots in favor of the search for genealogical ones. And as much as I find it interesting to know from where I come, it’s much more important to know where I’m going. Regardless of my earthly roots, my heavenly roots grow deeper daily even when I stumble. He’s always there to pick me up, dust me off, and point me in the right direction…again!

Biblical Sources:

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he called Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas, the son of James,

 and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:12-16

He appointed the twelve. Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder), Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Mark 3:16-18T


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