To show you what I mean, I brought a couple of items with me this morning that help me in my own quest for living what I call a “beyond the horizon” kind of life. Let me show them to you briefly, okay?
First, I want to show you our family crest. Understand, however, the motivation behind this is not primarily the symbol, although I do appreciate it and understand it. What really strikes me about this crest each time I see it as it hangs in my home office is not the “what” of the crest but the “who” of the crest – the man who passed it on to me! You see, this family emblem – the symbol of our heritage – wasn’t purchased at a store or bought online at familytree.com. No, it was passed down to me by my great grandfather, Rufus Theodore Stiles, whom I named after (RT, get it?). My parents were able to bring this back from the Stiles homestead in Blue Ridge, Georgia a few years ago, and they so graciously gave it to me as a reminder of the people who passed on to me my last name. Essentially, they entrusted me with a visible witness to my heritage.
I also want to show you another symbol of my heritage that means a great deal to me: my grandfather’s Bible. We called him Pop. What a man (and funny, too)! He is the son of the man I was named after, and the father of my dad. Whenever I leaf through it or scan its pages, I’m reminded of my grandfather’s deepest passion and most valuable relationship: the one he had with God through Jesus Christ. Pop was God’s man for his family, his church, and his community. And whenever I see his Bible, that heritage jumps out at me. In fact, according to my wife, sometimes it jumps out of me, for I have been wonderfully accused on numerous occasions of what our family calls “Pop-age.” What’s “Pop-age? It’s when the traits of my grandfather – and father no doubt – start oozing out of me unknowingly and almost uncontrollably. We usually start laughing together, but inside I’m thanking God for the mystery of heritage.
You see, both these items speak to something bigger than me. They speak to a heritage or name that I have been left with: Stiles. These symbols tell of something bigger than my place (where I live), my position (what I do), my pride (what I’ve accomplished), my prestige (what I’m called) or my philosophy (what I think). They speak to my heritage. They speak to my great grandfather, RT; my grandfather, Pop; my dad, Roger. Yes, they tell me about people. For that’s what a heritage is all about – people!