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Thursday, January 12, 2017

The First Answer

 I'm beginning to fall in love with this man - Elizur. I've been spending a lot of time with him lately, and the discoveries about him are endless. He has many titles to his name: Yale graduate, minister, husband, father of six children (including two members of Congress, the Lt. Gov. of Connecticut, two more Yale grads, etc), writer, teacher, and scientist. But perhaps most telling of all, are the compliments paid to him by his friends and family: "devoted to study of the Word of God"; "eminent for his wisdom"; "arbiter among his own people"; "peace-maker of the neighborhood"; "fitted for the service of God, and for the usefulness of mankind"; "patient, persevering, and investigating"; "a man of great wisdom and prudence"; "able to reconcile conflicting opinions and settle dangerous disputes"; "an eminent blessing to mankind and a profitable example to us." 
Sounds like a man anybody would be delighted to know, right?! 
The thing is...he lived from 1734-1797...and I've only just discovered him! Over the last few days, I've spent some extensive time researching this great individual and feeling along the way as though I'm making a new friend. From all accounts, one can gather that this man was a giant of the faith in his day, his influence reaching throughout the American colonies in which he lived. In addition to providing a great influence from his pulpit leading up to and throughout the war for American independence, he also was esteemed for his involvement in the political spectrum, personally knowing and interacting with the lives of many of our founding fathers. He was also the personal tutor to many young men, one of which was Eli Whitney - the eventual inventor of the cotton gin. Raising his six children to take their places in the world seriously, he saw them later influence the religious and political scene in a powerful way. Elizur's most profound impact, however, can be traced in the lives of his parishioners, who spoke of the man's devotion to God with the utmost respect. 
 I was blown away as I learned that he often would spend up to fourteen hours a day in the study of the Scriptures, causing me to feel great shame for the seemingly small amount of time I give to my own Bible reading. His personal library of books from which to draw insight into the Bible filled two large rooms, floor to ceiling, and an additional study room which he used for writing. 
 This man, Elizur, was somebody worth knowing. The pages of Google results I've found speak to the character and legacy of a man that honored God and influenced mankind (and ultimately history) by his labors and example. I can't seem to get enough information to satisfy my desire to learn more about this godly individual so that I may be further instructed and inspired. 
 And the thing is... Rev. Elizur Goodrich is my ancestor. He's the brother of my 5x great-grandfather, Alpheus, so I'm related to him closely. Which makes the discovery of this fellow that much more exciting. This story isn't just one for the books, it's part of my DNA. It's in my blood. And now I understand why I am who I am...why my love of books, writing, reading of great sermons of the faith is so strong. 
 It's no accident that this discovery happened on the first day of the year. This is actually the first answer from God to the prayer I prayed leading into 2017. I told God that I didn't want a safe faith...that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and become more bold in my walk with Him. I wanted to dare greatly in this New Year - to take my faith to even bigger levels than I ever have...to trust God in greater ways...to even be more purposeful in the relationships around me. 
 And what is part of His answer? To introduce me to a man who embodied all these things that I desire. Elizur provides me with a pathway to the level of belief I'm seeking. He sheds light for me on the areas in which I'm weak in the faith and spurs me onto to holier living. I know that this year will be different for me because I found out about him. And I know I'll never be the same. Sometimes God answers the prayers you pray in the most unexpected ways.  
 So I leave you with this encouragement...pray big. Dare greatly. Because God just may lead you into some amazing adventures that will rock your world and change your life.