Perhaps it is only as we age that we start to consider our heritage and who our ancestors were. Growing up in the State of Victoria in the Great Southland – Australia – I came to understand that my mother’s mother, my grandmother Helen Mary Spence Addison, was born in Aberdeen Scotland. My parents gave me the middle name Helen after my grandmother. As a child on occasion when visiting my grandmother and her siblings one of them would dance the Highland Fling to Scottish music and sometimes someone would play the bagpipes and talk about good old Scotland. My interest in my Scottish heritage certainly started then.
It was some years later when there was more time to think and reflect, that I came across an interesting photo from 1890 of my great grandfather, my grandmother Helen’s father, George Addison. He was a Private Attendant and Dispatch Rider in the Royal Mounted Infantry to Major General Lord Napier of the family seat of Thirlestane near Ettrick in Selkirkshire Scotland.
My grandmother Helen one of five children, was born in 1899 to George Addison and his wife Annie Rice Spence and later the whole family migrated to Australia on the ship HMS Schomberg and lived in the family home in Brighton, a lovely beachside suburb of Melbourne in the State of Victoria. As a young mother herself of five children, she used to sell newspapers at 5.00 am on the railway station to supplement the family income. Her main working role was in the wedding catering business in Elwood. For those days she was a good cook making roasts, patties and casseroles and apparently made a great sponge cake. My grandmother lived to be 100 years and spent her final days at AdventCare in Nunawading, Victoria. She was a hard working wiry sort of woman who outlived all her peers and siblings. According to family lore my great grandfather was a hard man and was totally against my grandmother’s marriage and wouldn’t allow her in the family home to dress for her wedding. Sadly my great grandfather passed on some years before I was born as I would have liked to have known this apparently stern Scottish man. He lost one of his two sons, the first day his son went off to fight in the First World War so this may have affected his outlook on life. He was however fond of my mother when she was a child, but he died before she could really know him.
What was even more interesting was finding a poem my great grandfather George Addison had written in 1943 that spoke about God. My mother has written hundreds of poems and mostly spiritual ones and here we find out that her grandfather wrote stories and poetry too. I had not realised that I had an ancestor who trusted in God. Most of my relatives while they may believe or believed in God, don’t worship Him. And here was a man who definitely had some comprehension of Who God is. (I think some poetic license using Scottish slang and spelling some words how they sounded, has influenced his poem!)
Knowing our earthly family details can certainly bring comfort and a sense of connection, but there is a much greater heritage we can claim. God calls us His children. He is the heavenly Father to all who love Him. The Apostle John has reminded us of our standing with the Creator of the universe.
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1
We are God’s children! When we accept Him into our lives, we are adopted as his sons and daughters. As my great grandfather reminded us in his poem, we don’t need to be concerned about the difficult times we face, we have a loving heavenly Father Who knows all about what is going on for us. We are His children and He has plans and purposes to bless and grow us. Sometimes the growing can be painful. Sometimes we are suffering the effects of sin. As we stay focused on our heavenly Father we will come through. Perhaps not to earthly gain but certainly to eternal gain where to be with Christ will be the greatest outcome we can ever imagine. Our real heritage is from God our Creator and Redeemer.
So don’t lament, God’s Word is true.
* Lindy Sperring is the Prayer Ministries, Resource Centre and Women's Ministry Coordinator for the South Australian Conference.