“The white man goes into his church and talks about Jesus, but the Indian goes into his tipi and talks to Jesus.” – Quanah Parker, great Comanche Indian chief.
Like most Americans, I’ve always been intrigued with our native Americans. Much of this likely comes from my early Indian heritage. The first one in my Martin line to come to the Louisiana Territory was what the settlers called ‘a squaw man.’ This meant that his wife was Indian.
Billy Martin was a Revolutionary Soldier. Like Quanah Parker, whose mother was a captured white woman, Billy Martin’s children were noted as ‘half breeds.’ My Martin family line is buried in our community cemetery, all the way back to my g-g-grandfather, Charles Seth Martin, the half-breed son of Billy and Elizabeth Martin. (White men gave their Indian wives an English name.)
Here is a picture of my family line laid out at Campbell Creek Cemetery. (The Indians called it ‘Campbell Creek’ because of a white settler who lived there for a time.)
What does any of this have to do with time and history?
I’m glad you asked. One reason I wanted to share this is because time and history is laid out in this cemetery.
Each person buried in this cemetery speaks of a life that was lived. Each life contained its own history.
But what really arrested my attention for this journal entry, is when I began thinking about just how short time can be.
Then I thought about history itself in the sense of how many today are not aware of how the world has changed in just a short time.
Think about how the Indians fit in the picture. Here is a bit on …
Getting a Fix on Time
I remember my grandparents on both sides of my family very well. Not only did I love them, but I spent a time with them in my early years. They were all of pioneer stock.
When I got to thinking about my grandfather Martin, John Allen, and the year he was born (1876), it began to dawn on me that he was born the year of the battle of little big horn, known as ‘Custer’s Last Stand’.
The Indian wars were going on. The country was yet in its pioneer mode. Most of the west was still Indian territory.
Think about it – The following were not even states at that time: Colorado, North and South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and certainly not Alaska and Hawaii. (Alaska and Hawaii were admitted in my life time.)
My dad was born two years before Quanah Parker died, and Oklahoma had just become a state (1907), two years before dad was born. When my dad was born, New Mexico, and Arizona were not states.
Is it beginning to sink in?
It is not about a history lesson. What I wish to get across is how fast time moves and how much God is involved in all that history has to tell.
What I want to get across is how each person has only a measure of life on this planet. What we do with those short years are a key to the whole of our future, both naturally and spiritually.
The Life-Lesson in Time and History
Listen carefully as the apostle Paul speaking by the Spirit of the Lord, lays out time and history –
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;
“… and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him,
“… though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’
“Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Act 17:24-31)
Listen carefully to added instructions from God’s Holy Writ:
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’” (Jas 4:14-15)
“Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.
“So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.” (Ecc 11:9-10)
“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them’”. (Ecc 12:1)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.“ (Psa 139:23-24)
I will always carry in my heart a need to reach the lost man. But one of my deepest concerns is for the young people of today. Many of them know all the right words to say, but when it comes to the things of the Lord, I see so much darkness in their lives. It is as though the spirit of the world has brought them under its power. It is as though their minds are so clouded that they are unable to see the destruction around them.
Yes, I’m deeply concerned, but, no, I’m not dismayed. Not all young people are like that. And I know that the Lord is greater than anything this world can offer.
I know that He is able to break every yoke. I also know that time is always on the side of truth. And I know that many of the young people who are being snared today, will one day break out of the harness of darkness, and will become wonderful testifiers to the grace and love that is found in Jesus Christ.
My prayer will always be for God’s awakening call be felt throughout this generation.
Paul said it well enough:
“For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.’
“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”(Eph 5:14-16)
White Man Goes Into His Church
What did Chief Quanah Parker mean, “The white man goes into his church and talks about Jesus, but the Indian goes into his tipi and talks to Jesus.”
Actually God had already set the stage for the Indians to come to know Jesus. The Great Spirit was called, ‘Wakan Tanka’, by many of the Plains Indians. They believed that the Great Spirit was personal and close to them; that the Great Spirit had created all things and instructed the people how to live.
Quanah did not accept Christianity as it was offered by the missionaries, though one of his sons became a Methodist minister. Quanah helped to set up the Native American Church and their use of peyote. This church for the most part included a belief in Jesus, that He was an intercessor for humans, and a spiritual guardian. They also held a belief in the Bible.
For the Indians, everything was personal. Thus they believed in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So they believed in talking to Jesus. Of course the use of peyote as an hallucinatory drug made from cactus is illegal for anyone aside from the Indians.
About talking to Jesus, what do you think about that? Isn’t it kind of up front and personal? Isn’t that what true Christianity is really about? And I can agree with Quanah in some of what he thought. For many Christians it seems to be about religion and not necessarily a personal talking relationship with Jesus.
And, no, it really isn’t a matter of having Indian ancestry. Most pioneer families do have such a lineage. In fact my wife shares a direct lineage with the Choctaw nation of Oklahoma. They are quite familiar with the trail of tears.
But it is a matter of time. What are you doing about your time on earth?
While you consider these things, take time to listen to this song, ‘How Great Thou Art.’ It is music only but with Indian pictures for the background.
In Christ always,