Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 (Part 7) – Little Ralyn Greer…Did You Know?

Posted: January 24, 2017 in 05-Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 (Part 7 of 7)

A Call to Love and Obedience


Little Miss Ralyn Greer. She will be six months old tomorrow. We call her “Lil Nugget”! My granddaughter is the cutest little girl that you would ever want to see and it’s not that I am prejudiced or predisposed to thinking that she is a beautiful little girl. There are complete strangers who tell us how beautiful she is and how she should be a baby model. Her eyes are captivating. Her facial expressions are just hilarious at times. Her smile is infectious. She is, also, just a really good-natured baby. She is not one of those babies who just cries all the time at the least little thing. Ralyn does cry like any baby does but it is usually when something’s wrong – she’s hungry, she’s got a present for her mom or dad in her diaper that’s no longer working for her, she’s fighting sleep, or she wants to be held. Other than that, she will let pretty much anyone hold her. She loves to play with her activities center toys. She squeals in amazement the ball spins after she hits it on her activity center. She likes to make noises just to hear herself make them. She is a joy to be around. She’s beautiful. She’s going to be a smart one. She has a good disposition. She doesn’t mind being in big crowds. I just think she’s awesome. She’s my granddaughter.


Sometimes, though, I sit and wonder if she will know her family history and how she is part of it. Since my dad’s line of the Bowling family tree ends, there will be no more Bowlings coming from my dad’s line of the family – my brother had a girl and a boy and then I had two girls. Given the fact that my brother’s son has chosen an alternative lifestyle and the rest are girls, there will be no more blood Bowlings that will trace their roots back to my dad. My nephew, because of the lifestyle path he has chosen, will only be able to possibly adopt a child if he so choses and it may be a boy but the child will not be a blood Bowling. My grandfather’s line of the Bowlings is in danger as well. He had five boys and you would think that this would have ensured the survival of the Bowling line. However, one of my uncles, Doug, adopted two daughters. One of my uncles, Oscar, had three daughters. One of my uncles, Ben, had one daughter. One of my uncles, Edward, had a daughter and a son. And, of course, my dad had two boys (me and my older brother). I had two girls. My brother had a boy and a girl. Edward’s son and my brother’s son are the only ways that my grandfather’s branch of the Bowling name survives. So for the possibility for my Pop’s line of the Bowling name to survive through producing a child who is Pop’s progeny by blood, all of our family hopes rely on Ben Bowling, the son of my Uncle Edward. Young Ben, as we call him since carries the same name as our Uncle Ben, is a quirky young man and possibly may not ever marry and have children. So, there is a likelihood that my grandfather’s bloodline and name end with this generation.


Therefore, the family history becomes ever so important to preserve. The stories of my grandpa and his connections and how he was always able to get things done. Questions you didn’t want to know the answers to when it came to my grandpa’s ability always having a wad of cash in his wallet that did not include small bills. Stories of my grandmother Bowling growing up in an orphanage. Stories of my uncle Ben in the service in the cold war years. Stories of my uncle Ed being part of the protests in the early 70’s that shut down the campus at University of South Carolina for one or two days. Stories of him, ironically, going into the service in the Air Force being part of the hippy generation of the 60s-early 70s that was going to change the world but found out that ya had to feed your family. Great stories though from his 20 years of service in the Air Force. Stories of my Uncle Doug and how he left our family for the last forty years of life and why it all happened over some ill-timed, ill-chosen, flippant comments of my grandfather (who always spoke his mind – he had no filter). Stories of my Uncle Ben, who seemed to have a knack for knowing when and what to invest in and how he began making more money from his side jobs and investments than his long career at Southern Bell. Stories of my Uncle Oscar and how he was the one that carried on that tradition from Pop as the guy you went to, to get stuff done, to find out information, he and his “connections” were always about to find out what you needed to find out about people, places, and things. Stories of Uncle Oscar, the first in our family to lose a child to a car accident and how that changed his family unit of the Bowling family forever. How he moved to Florida to get away the memories. Then, there are the stories of my dad and his support for the civil rights movement in the South in the early sixties as a Methodist preacher preaching messages that did not want to be heard. Stories of my dad working two jobs when bi-vocational pastors were frowned upon in the Methodist Church. Stories of my dad’s youth and the speed demon that he was. Stories of my dad being the suave ladies man who was knocked off his feet by Carolyn Burke Davis. Stories of their long marriage and many pastoral miles traveled. Stories of my life and all its ups and downs, twists and turns. Stories of her Papa (me) and her great uncle and how we had our adventures as preacher’s kids. Stories of being Star Trek nuts who used to use our dad’s churches as our Starship Enterprise. Stories of our battles of two rivalrous brothers. Stories. Stories. Stories. Stories of the tumultuous youth of her mom and her sister. Stories of how her mom is a steady rock in the storms of life. Stories of her aunt and the daredevil she was as a kid and how she still is in some ways. All these quirks and glories of our flawed but wonderful Bowling family. These things must be preserved and reveled in.


In Southern society, it is by nature, patriarchal and if you are a girl, you trace your family’s history through that of your husband. It is primary. However, girls don’t forget their own family trees but they do tend to put more emphasis on the family line they became part of through marriage. So, with the proponderence of girls that came forth from five boys of Ralph T. Bowling, Sr., the line comes to a close with this generation. So, it is even more important to me that Ralyn knows her Bowling side. She is a Greer by name but she has Bowling blood in her through her mom. We must preserve the stories. We must preserve the 50 years of pictures that are still in storage that my mom kept. We must preserve the hard copy pictures of that era and all the digital pictures that have come into our family over the last fifteen years. Ralyn needs to know our family history. She needs to know the story of us. She needs to know the history of the Bowling family. Without it, lessons will not be learned. Joys of the family will not be passed down from generation to generation. The sorrows of the previous generations will not be shared. The highs and the lows will not be known.


As we finish our review of this weighty passage today, it was this idea of knowing and remembering stuff that is important and passing it down from generation to generation that came to mind. With that idea in mind, let’s read Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 together:


12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?


14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.


11 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea[a] as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done


In this series of blogs, we are talking about how we should relate to God. Today, we are talking about how do we know God and how do we preserve that knowledge. Israel had strong reasons to believe in God and obey His commands. They had witnessed a parade of mighty miracles that demonstrated God’s love and care for them. Incredibly, they still had trouble being faithful. Because few of us have seen miracles on the scale of what the Israelites saw, it may seem even harder for us to obey God and be continually faithful to His commands. But, we have the Bible. It is the written record of God’s throughout history. Reading God’s Word gives a panoramic view of both the miracles that Israel saw and also others that they did not see. The lessons from the past, the instructions from the present, and glimpses into the future give us many opportunities to strengthen our faith in God. The Bible is our evidence of God’s personal nature and how He cares for His people. It is our guidebook for living. God tells us how to live. It is also the story of how He redeems even the worst of His people. It is the story of His redemptive plan for mankind. It is the story of His love for us and His pursuit of us.


Just as my daughter, Meghan, and I must take care to preserve the history of the Bowling family of my grandfather whose line will vanish within this generation so that Ralyn will know her roots in the Bowling family, the Bible is our family story for those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Savior. Just as we can use our family history to teach life lessons to Ralyn – the joys, the sorrows, the mistakes, the blunders, the consequences, the highs and the lows of very real people with the last name, Bowling, we can learn the same things in the Bible.


We are grafted into the family of God through Jesus Christ. The Bible is our family history. We learn how alike we are with the completely, flawed great men and women of the Bible. In the Bible, we see ourselves. In the Bible, we see the mistakes that we make. In the Bible, we learn from the mistakes of our spiritual ancestors. We learn the reasons for why we believe what we believe. We have our family history right there in the Bible. We have the stories of how God has pursued us through the centuries. We have the story of Jesus, its central character. We have the stories of God’s redemptive plan that began in Genesis and comes to completion in Revelation. Let us remember the stories and preserve them in our hearts. Let us read the Bible constantly as if it were our family history and that it all leads down to our little branch of God’s family. That’s the point of the Bible. It is all about you and me becoming part of the family tree of the family of God. This is your family history. This is my family history. Become part of the story … through Jesus Christ. Welcome home!


Amen and Amen.

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