A Surprising Discovery of God’s Faithfulness
Does anything carry more legacy-building power than faith in God? Faith not only transforms everything about the individual but also influences everyone around them. Here is an even more stunning thought: faith carries multigenerational influence.
This post is an excerpt, used with permission from the Publisher and Author, from the book Only One Life by Jackie Green and Lauren McAfee. In Only One Life, mother-and-daughter team Jackie Green and Lauren McAfee share the stories of remarkable women from Bible times to today, inviting you to join the company of women God is using to change the world.
Is it possible that your ancestors have had a far greater impact on who you are and what God calls you to do than you realize? We certainly began to think so when, while doing some research on our genealogy, we discovered a remarkable woman of legacy in the branches of our family tree. And that discovery ended up connecting to the Museum of the Bible in an amazing way!
As I’ve (Jackie) mentioned, for my birthday a few years ago, my husband, Steve, blessed me with a most wonderful and unusual present. He gifted me the services of a professional genealogist to map out our family history. He knew that I had already become semi-obsessed with this subject after subscribing to one of the popular online genealogy research services.
I had been on several trips with my grandmother, mother, and aunts to search for more information on our family tree. My grandmother and mother recalled many stories that my great-grandmother had shared about our family line tracing back to George Washington and royalty in England. These trips just made me want to know more about our family history.
As I mentioned in our book, through this whole process I discovered that Queen Elizabeth II is my ninth cousin. I was delighted to also learn that my family line extends back even farther to the first Queen Elizabeth, who reigned from 1558 to 1603.
The discovery came about one day back in 2016 as I was sharing some of these genealogical revelations with one of the brilliant collection curators on our staff. In response, he said, “Well, if you’re related to Queen Elizabeth, I think there’s a good chance you might also be related to Elizabeth de Bohun, the English noblewoman connected to the remarkable new manuscript we just received!”
Looking at the exciting details, I found out that this ancestor of mine (her name is pronounced “deh-boon”), who illustrated the manuscript The Hours and Psalter of Elizabeth de Bohun, was part of a family of extremely devout Christians who used their wealth to commission beautiful works of art. Some of the finest manuscripts of the fourteenth century were commissioned by Elizabeth’s family, including her in-laws.
As a matter of fact, The Hours and Psalter of Elizabeth de Bohun was at one time a centerpiece of the private collection of William Waldorf Astor, the richest man in America at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1883, Astor loaned this and other pieces from his collection to an exhibition in New York to help raise funds to provide a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. At the time, the Chicago Tribune called it “the grandest 14th Century English manuscript in private hands.”
What a beautiful moment! I had suddenly discovered that one of the most important and exciting manuscripts in our large and growing collection was connected to my ancestor! That can’t possibly be an accident or coincidence. It served as a small but gratifying sign that there were threads of faith in my family’s tapestry that were being woven throughout time unbeknownst to me, yet I was able to appreciate the fruits of their investment. And the gift of legacy was clear, right in front of me. Elizabeth de Bohun lived only a brief life, yet here we are seven centuries later talking about her and how her/my family invested in the Word of God. She and her husband commissioned this beautifully illustrated manuscript—at great financial expense—during a time when there was much unrest in England and much of the population could not read. The same faith that compelled them to create these beautiful works built around Scripture has flowed down through the centuries, right down to me, as a living legacy.