September 17, 2017
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. II Corinthians 4:8-10
Have you ever experienced a flood of emotion invoked by something you saw, a sound you heard or an aroma you smelled?
Warm sheets of salty water cascaded down my face when I was presented with my great-grandparents’ family bible and my grandfather’s old trunk.
I had seen that bible numerous times, looked at the names of family members I was never blessed to meet and felt the locks of curly hair not knowing who they belonged to.
This time was different. My father and step-mother were moving to the south and epically downsizing. Thus they had to leave most of their possessions behind, including the sentimental stuff.
My siblings and I were invited to take the things we wanted.
I chose a dining room table and my maternal grandparents’ Golden Wheat dinnerware. Neither choice based on financial value. I wanted the stuff linked to fond memories. Something that would allow me to hold on if only for a moment to the past.
When my father asked me to take the bible it touched my heart. This bible contained our family history. Births, deaths, marriages and yes, the curly locks of hair. It somehow connected me to my ancestors as well as my grandfather whom I miss dearly.
I carefully inquired of my step-mother, “Momma, I hope you are taking the trunk with you to Florida!”. “No baby.” she declared. “You can take it if you want it”. My spirit found relief.
I had worried that the trunk would land in the hands of some stranger who would not know the story nestled within the wood and metal.
It is just a trunk.
But the memories etched in that antique dome top metal box proclaim a memoir of a little boy’s tragedies and an old man’s triumph.
Calvin Johnson Vaught Sr. aka C.J. was born April 30, 1913. By the time he had his third birthday he had witnessed the birth and death of his two sisters and his mother. His father also died young, when C.J. was only eleven years old.
When C.J.’s mother passed his paternal uncle and aunt took him in. One day a few years later, C.J.’s maternal grandmother and Aunt Sadie asked if he could come to stay with them for a while. His uncle agreed and off they went to build a relationship with the son of their lost loved one.
As the summer began to come to a close, Aunt Sadie realized that it was time for C.J. to start school so they loaded his trunk on the wagon and traveled back to his uncle’s house. Surprisingly, when they arrived at the uncle’s house, they found it empty. No one lived there anymore.
They took C.J. back to his grandmother’s house. Aunt Sadie had several children, one son who was C.J.’s age.so eventually he went to live with her. He and that little trunk.
Many children experiencing trauma suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder and may exhibit anxiety, opposition, and defiance. Others operate with anger, rage, resentment, hostility or bitterness.
Losing his parents and siblings, being abandoned by his surrogate parents and being passed from house to house did not become a breeding ground for mental or behavior challenges in my grandfather. Contrary, those experiences became pressure that formed a beautiful person. C.J. was a forgiving, compassionate, giving soul.
Aunt Sadie’s husband was a preacher and she a missionary. Their home became the incubator for a traumatized little boy. He was fed God’s word, covered in prayer and bathed in love.
C.J. met the Lord at an early age. He experienced the grace and mercy of a loving Savior and dedicated his life to showing love to everyone he knew. I am a recipient of that love.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
I John 4:11 NKJV
It’s Not just a trunk.
The memories etched in that antique dome top metal box proclaim a memoir of a little boy’s tragedies and an old man’s triumph.
I will cherish the trunk and one day pass it on to the next generation as a testament of God’s redemption. C.J.’s trunk will perpetually serve as a symbol of refusing to be victims. We have victory running through our veins. We are overcomers.
Do you have a symbol of victory in your possession?
What example has been demonstrated to you in such a way that you now claim the overcomer status?
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