Family Lessons 56: Elizabeth Taylor

I am descended from Elizabeth Taylor.

“You’re a filthy liar!”, you reply.

“Why??”, says I.

“Well you don’t have her looks, her manners, or her charm”.

“Nor her wealth”, I add.

If you thought I meant the glamorous Anglo-American actress of Hollywood fame, you would be mistaken. That Liz Taylor starred in numerous mid-century films, not least Cleopatra (1961). She enjoyed collecting gigantic diamonds, glamour awards and handsome husbands. No, the Liz Taylor from whom I come (my 8x great-grandmother) was born in 1681 at Paythorne, a small village north of Gisburn. It was there that she died in 1757. She started at that poor place and she died at that poor place, and, I daresay, she lived in that poor place in-between. The family were farmers, and not terribly prosperous ones. In Paythorne today, there is a good pub, a Methodist Chapel and a caravan site. Otherwise, little of interest. It would have been an even duller place in the 1600-1700s. I suspect Granny Elizabeth was in no way remarkable; she was just another 'early modern' woman who worked hard and raised children. Her name would have been commonplace and humdrum, with none of its current associations with fame and riches.

If Granny Elizabeth is looking down on me now (and there are some serious theological reasons for doubting this), she may feel the same of me as I of her. I am a pretty ordinary guy living just 3-4 miles from where she resided. I’ve barely gone up in the world and my offspring are six fewer than hers. And if she catches me having a lie in at the weekend, she might reckon me a idler, seeing as she was likely up before dawn most of her life. A plain ancestor producing a plain descendant. At least she had a namesake who had glamour enough to spare; I cannot even claim that.

Yet as a Christian, my greatness and identity are not found in myself, much less some ancestor or namesake. It is found in the Lord Jesus. What meagre wealth Elizabeth possessed never came as far down as me, yet I am a co-heir with Christ:

…and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:17

I am adopted into the family of the chosen:

…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will Ephesians 1:5

While lacking their splendour, I am esteemed at least as greatly as any angel:

…for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26

Every Christian is wealthy, great and honoured for the One in whom he is found, for the wonderful identity and status Christ graciously bequeaths them. One day, all that is His will be ours, which is why we now gladly consecrate all that is ours to Him. Old Granny shares her name with a stunningly beautiful film star, but the Greatest One will share His everything with me, and not just a name. And if they believed the gospel, both Elizabeth Taylors are now wealthier and grander than ever they were on earth.

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay