This is the earliest picture I have been able to find of my ancestors. This is Robert and Jessie Jeannette White in September of 1889 in Broken Bow, Nebraska. The tiny baby, barely visible in Jessie’s arms, 2 months old, is my grand-father. Robert and Jessie had married in Newton, Scotland, December 11, 1884. So far, on my father’s side, all of the lines I’ve been able to trace have taken me back to one place: Scotland. I’m looking forward to gathering some more information and then, if I can ever find some “personal” time, digging into the tremendous resources now available for establishing an even fuller record of my family in Scotland.
Now, why would I share this information here? No, I’m not trying to explain why in my anime picture earlier I was wearing a kilt, though, that would explain it. The name White or Whyte is a sept of two Scottish clans, Lamont and MacGregor. The locations and names I’m uncovering in my research are, for the moment, pointing more toward MacGregor, but there are some large holes I still need to fill in. But that isn’t the reason, either.
I was thinking about that little bundle in my great-grandmother’s arms, all of two months old, out there on the wide open plains of Nebraska. How cold it must have been during the winters. How dangerous as he grew up…no medical facilities nearby, no electricity, running water. All the dangers he faced, and survived. All the times God protected him. How many times did God’s grace spare his life, and then his son’s life, and now my own? The great and majestic God of eternity had a purpose for him, for his son, for me. If I have been called of God to do certain things, gifted to work in the Kingdom in a small area, that purpose flowed through that little bundle in the wide expanse of Nebraska in 1889, for I am who I am because of him, and his son, and so many others who were alive in other places in that day. And as I thought of all of my ancestors I could not help but be in awe of God’s sovereign decree and its providential outworking in time. His purpose in their lives was perfectly fulfilled, and, beyond that, their impact through time was not some uncertain, hoped-for thing in God’s plan. Their descendants are exactly who God decreed they would be, and are doing what He intended, to His glory.
What a sense of pity I have for the open theist who tries to worship a halting God who is constantly frustrated in His plans and purposes. And what of the legions of pseudo- and post-evangelicals who no more worship a sovereign God than they believe in His electing grace or in His eternal decree–a God they call sovereign but who is, in reality, very much under their control? I take great joy in the recognition of God’s power in His sovereign decree. I feel very small, very powerless as I ponder it, but, at the same time, I look at that little bundle in my great grandmother Jessie’s arms, out there in the wilds of Nebraska, and I can just imagine her singing to that little guy in her Scottish brogue, and I know in God’s purpose that little one was safe—perfectly safe, sustained by God’s loving grace. God had a purpose for him–and his son, and for me. What a thought.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. (Isaiah 40:28)