Who do you think you are? – Graham Coyle

Categories: Blog

I watched an interesting programme the other day.  Well, to tell you the truth it was the other night, quite late and normally I’d have been long gone for some much needed beauty sleep.  However, I’d heard about this programme a couple of days earlier on the radio.  (TV programmes generally don’t transfer well to radio, so please be aware that it was only a discussion about the programme.)  What people were saying interested me so when I saw that it was on I decided to watch it.  Why didn’t I record it instead?  The problem I find is that I record things and then never get around to watching them.  It’s as though I use my recorder as a kind of proxy watcher.  I record the programmes so that I don’t have to watch them, as though that is somehow the next best thing.  That may seem ridiculous to you but there you are.  The net effect of all of this is that I decided there and then to watch the programme live, so I did.

It was part of the current series of a show called ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ which you may already know.  For those that don’t, the basic premise is this.  It begins with a celebrity.  Now, when I say celebrity I really mean someone that everyone else seems to know except me.  Someone who has become well known for their acting in a soap opera, period drama, carpet advert, or singing in a boy band, girl band, rubber band, or possibly for some daring exploit such as eating woodlice in the jungle, surviving in deprivation on some remote island with nothing more than a set of false eyelashes and a copy of the Daily Mail, or escaping after abduction by aliens who wanted to learn the secret of becoming an overnight sensation on some social media platform.  So, the celebrity is led through a process of uncovering their family tree and often, they discover some unusual facts about their origins, where they come from, you get the idea.

This was one such celebrity.  I won’t tell you his name, or what he does but please be assured that he really is quite well known and he does what he does very well, or so I’m told and I have no reason to think otherwise.  He is what we might describe as a good bloke, salt of the earth.  He is the kind of guy that you might meet in the local pub and he would offer to buy you a drink and a packet of pork scratchings, or aubergine scratchings if you don’t like pork.  He began to explore his history, which gradually became more intriguing.  After a fairly normal trek through the previous 150 years or so he started to come across some connections with the upper echelons of society.  Eventually we were taken to meet a distant relative who had turned out to be a real live lord.  I mean a proper lord, with a castle, drawbridge, ancestral portraits; the lot.  What is more, this gent clearly knew the history of his family which took our increasingly incredulous celebrity all the way back to a ‘geezer’ (just throwing in some salt of the earth phraseology there) known as Thomas Cromwell, an important if somewhat controversial minister from the court of Henry VIII.

Our celebrity was stunned, ‘gobsmacked’ in the vernacular.  I’m not sure how much, if anything, he knew about his ancestor but he was impressed.   The story went on and the reaction of the man at the centre of it all was fascinating as he became aware that there was something special emerging about who he was.  The climax of the whole affair came when he was introduced to a historian who had followed the line of Thomas Cromwell.  The celebrity was invited to read through the names.  He was clearly not familiar with the pronunciation of the family name Plant-a-ge-net but he had heard of Edward III.  Yes, dear reader, this particular actor had just been introduced to the fact that he was a direct descendent of one of England’s great kings, not to mention the rest of the line all the way back to William the Conqueror.

He was genuinely speechless and it was clearly taking him a while to assimilate this information.  More than that, he expected that this discovery was going to change him and his outlook on himself.  Immediately I saw parallels for all of us.  This man was reeling from the impact of discovering royal lineage, even though King Edward III’s life ended hundreds of years ago.  How are we impacted by the fact that our lives are inhabited and cherished by the King of all kings who is fully alive and infinitely powerful?  Surely it will make an incredible difference to us?

Whatever our circumstances, whatever our skills and gifts, whatever our resources in the natural realm, we are sons and daughters of the living God.  This makes all of the difference to us.  Our status is not from us it is for us, our inheritance is not because of who we are but because of who He is, our significance is not based on our achievements but on His worthiness and our mission is not for our self-promotion but for the promotion of others to the same status, inheritance, significance and mission.

Our celebrity can read about His Kingly relative but he can’t talk to him, listen to him, be encouraged by him, celebrate with him, be empowered by him or be loved by him.  We can.  Our Kingly Father does all that for us and more.  Our celebrity, given the chance, might travel back in time to meet with Edward III, we can meet with our King every moment of every day, wherever and whenever.  Our celebrity might have discovered a stronger sense of value and perhaps even purpose from his royal connections but our discovery is that the King of kings has caused us all to be invested with value and born to purpose.  His story was interesting but I would not swap it for mine; would you?  Who do you think you are?

Author: Liz Wilson

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