I recently watched a TEDx Talk where the speaker stated the odds of each one of us being born at the moment in time we were born, to the parents we were born to, with the DNA structure that we have, are 1 in 400,000,000,000. Those are remarkable odds, but I don’t believe you and I are here by chance. I believe we were created for a purpose, by a creative God who has a master plan.
Even so, I often marvel at all the obstacles my ancestors had to overcome for me to be given the gift of life. I didn’t choose to be born, nor did my parents or grandparents. Yet, the fact I was born, is a testament to God’s grace given to every generation that came before me. And the same is true for you, as well.
I never fully understood this until a recent trip to visit my parents yielded two amazing discoveries. Not being a genealogy hound, I hadn’t spent much time digging at the roots of my family tree. But what I learned fascinated me, inspired me, and changed how I view myself and the world around me.
It all started when my mom introduced me to a co-worker and told me they discovered through casual conversation their ancestors had come over on the same boat in the 1700’s.
“How do you know?” I asked, astounded a generation 300 years later would even possess that information. But, somehow, they did. And the story my mom told me was quite remarkable.
My mother’s ancestors had boarded a ship on the Rhine river, paying the captain for their passage to America. When the ship reached the sea, the captain and crew left the ship with the ruse of obtaining more supplies for the long journey. They never returned. Instead, they absconded with all the money and left the immigrants floating helplessly at sea.
In time, their ship was discovered off the coast of England, where they were found starving to death. Word of their sorry plight was sent to the King. He took pity on them, and immediately sent provisions. But he did more than that. He made sure they got safely to America.
Then, thirty years after settling in South Carolina, the Revolutionary War broke out. Since their lives had been saved by the King of England, they couldn’t help but be loyal to the British. This was not a safe thing to be at that time, so they fled to Canada.
Years later, they stuck a toe over the border into Montana to test the water, and ended up settling there. That’s where I was born, but I guess I wouldn’t be here at all if it wasn’t for the King of England. Thank you, George!
I also owe tribute to another George, who was the father of my dad’s great grandfather. He must have been a good man, because he raised a very creative and courageous son named Charles.
Along with his brothers, Charles wanted to enlist in the Union Army. Since they weren’t all of age, the brothers put slips of paper in the bottom of their shoes. One slip had a 1 written on it, and the other had an 8 written. That way, they could all swear they were “over 18” and not be lying!
Nine months before the war ended, Charles was captured while on a raid and ended up a prisoner of war. When he was finally released, he weighed a mere 87 pounds. He was one of the lucky POWs who survived, and because he did, I exist.
When I reflect on the hardships my ancestors had to overcome, it’s a wonder I was even born. The chances do seem like 1 in 400 billion after all. But, again, I don’t believe in chance. I believe I’m here by God’s design – and so are you!
I also believe we’ve both got work to do to live up to the tenacity and pluck of those who came before us. They didn’t just understand the value of struggle in building character. They experienced it firsthand.
So, whatever your challenge, remember you are not alone and were never alone. And, by George, I bet you have what it takes to turn your obstacles into opportunities – and maybe even save a boatload of other folks, too!