My father was born in 1891, 12 years before the Wright Brothers flew. He lived his entire life in New York City from the horse-and-buggy era to the age of jet-airliners and tall skyscrapers – a very transformational period. I was born in 1946, and was the only child from my parents’ late-in-life union. Mom was 43 at the time, and they told me many times that I was a “surprise baby.”
Dad was a respected supervisory mechanical engineer. He worked until 1954 when he was ruled disabled because of quickly deteriorating eyesight. As a young lad, he took me for outings on many of the city’s far-reaching elevated and subway lines. By the time I was 11, my father was no longer able to navigate the city and transit system on his own. But he still took me out exploring to both show and teach me. My father held his cane in one hand and my arm in the other, telling me how to get where we were going, and it was my job to get us there safely. It was a sight to behold – a youngster leading a blind tour guide on sightseeing trips! On the many forays around the city, I saw bridges, buildings, trains, railroad facilities, museums, ships, and a lot more. My blind father gave me a passion for railways and engineering, which led me into a very successful and enjoyable career.
Photo - Stephen Sr. and Catherine McEvoy with “Surprise Baby” Stephen aka Me
I was told little about Dad’s earlier life before my birth. But my father did share that he was put in an orphanage when he was just 4 years old, where he lived 10 years. There was never any mention of my paternal Grandparents James and Emily (Foster) McEvoy. And, in spite of asking many times, I never learned why my father wound up in an orphanage at such a young age. It wasn’t until many years after his death that I realized how great of a man and father he truly was, and I recently learned that I only knew half the story.
My family gave me a DNA kit as a Christmas gift. It included a box, vial, instructions, and seemed high-tech and complicated. It sat on my desk for six months before I finally read the material, which turned out to be quite simple. I spit some saliva into the vial, completed a short form, put it into the provided box, and mailed it back for DNA analysis. Nothing complex at all. I had no idea what the DNA results would be. The only significant question I had about my heritage was why my father found himself in an orphanage at 4 years of age.
A few weeks later, I received the results – Great Britain 45%, Ireland 34%, Iberian Peninsula 9%, Scandinavia 8%, and a smattering of other geographical regions. I also received a list of 159 possible 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th cousins, but I never reached out to any of them. However, two of these relatives contacted me – David, the grandson of my Uncle Henry, and Patricia, the great granddaughter of my Uncle William. They both confirmed that my father was one of seven siblings. Interesting but nothing earth shattering.
Then I raised the long-unanswered question whether they knew why my father wound up in an orphanage at a young age. They were surprised that I did not know about the family tragedy. Rather than tell me the gory details, they briefed me about the basics and explained how I could research the sad events for myself.
I quite easily found the tragic story in many newspapers. I was shocked to learn that on July 6, 1895, my Grandfather James McEvoy, during a drunken rage, shot my Grandmother Emily in the head and torso. The shooting occurred in front of two of their children. The other five children immediately ran into the room after the gunfire. As reported in the New York Herald, “The seven children were screaming and yelling. The flat was in the wildest disorder.”
James penned two suicide notes before the deed, but he yielded to the children’s pleading that he not turn the gun on himself. Police officers soon arrived and took James into custody. “Only the clubs of six policemen kept James McEvoy from being lynched by his frantic neighbors…” Emily was taken to a hospital where she died two days later. My grandfather was a premeditated murderer.
The day after Emily’s death, James was being transported to court for legal proceedings via Manhattan’s Third Avenue Elevated Line. While handcuffed and waiting on the 59th Street Station platform, James pulled away and threw himself onto the track in front of the approaching train. He was mortally wounded and died in a hospital an hour later. Within three short days, my father and his six siblings (ranging from 2 to 19 years of age) violently lost both parents.
James’ family helped the seven children transition through the aftermath of the terrible tragedy. The three eldest needed minimal assistance, while my father, the second youngest, wound up in an orphanage.
I spent my entire career in railway operations and engineering, and it was bizarre for me to learn that my grandfather died in Manhattan after being run over by an elevated train, hauled much less by a steam locomotive. And I walked through the intersection of 59th Street and Third Avenue many times over the years totally unaware that such a horrific family tragedy occurred there just one long generation ago.
Photo - New York’s Third Avenue Elevated Circa 1878-1895 before Electrification
There are many events in life that we cannot foresee or prepare for, and learning this sad family history was certainly one of them. And yet, as terrible as the tragedy was, I felt prepared for the bad news to a significant degree.
I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior 54 years ago on simple blind faith, without thinking it all through. Almost immediately, I struggled with many “whys” – why God allows pain, suffering, disease, death, and dozens more. After 10 years or so of wrestling with God, I still could not understand or rationalize the human condition, and I gave up trying. I simply decided to yield and accept the Biblical explanations – we live in a fallen world where free will prevails, sin permeates, and stuff happens – both good and bad. While I still do not like or understand why things are the way they are, I stopped trying to make sense of it all. I reaffirmed my faith in Jesus and His Sacrifice on my behalf, and I also firmly embraced God’s Written Word, regardless of my feelings and unanswered questions.
So, learning about my family’s tragedy did not jar or rattle me to any significant degree, but the sad story did slowly cut to my heart in a number of other ways. I have been unable to feel any sympathy for James McEvoy. He had a history of drunkenness and violence, and was arrested several months before the murder for attacking his wife Emily while intoxicated. I do have an immense empathy for Emily, who gave James seven children only to be slaughtered by him.
The story generated much emotion in me about my father overcoming such a turbulent and tragic childhood, and excelling in life in spite of it. Dad never complained and never seemed sad, even after he went blind. Dad’s oldest brother William stirs even greater emotion in me, because he unexpectedly became the family patriarch at the age of 19. He stepped up to the plate, providing love and assistance to his youngest siblings. My father recounted that William visited him many times during the 10 years spent in the orphanage, after which William took my father home to live with him and his family during my dad’s teenage years.
However, the greatest emotion and discomfort I have felt about the tragedy is not about James, Emily, William or my father, but about me. The story has reminded me about my sinful nature, failures and shortcomings. As strange as it sounds, I feel blessed, enriched and even healed by these sad introspective feelings. While I cannot change history, I can still change myself and also allow God greater control over my life.
A touching side story to the tragedy was that the Plasterers’ Union of which James was a member contributed $150 towards the funeral cost. When adjusted for inflation, this is equivalent to $4,167 today – not a trivial amount. Considering that James was a drunken murderer, such a sizable donation was a remarkable showing of fraternal love, and also an important reminder that the Second Great Commandment to love our neighbor applies even when we hate what the neighbor did!
The moral of the story may seem to be that before spitting for a DNA test, be prepared for the possibility of bad news. However, that is just a “catchy” title; the lesson is much deeper than that. There are many other far more likely possible tragedies that could befall us tomorrow, which would more greatly test and challenge our faith, and rack our emotions. The promises in Revelation 21:4 make clear that we currently live in a fallen world where bad stuff happens even to the best of Christians:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 ESV)
The sheltered “bubbles” we live in might burst tomorrow. We could prematurely lose a loved one, have a heart attack, be diagnosed with cancer, or become paralyzed! I have seen these and other tragic life-changing events happen to the finest of Christians. Although rarely preached or dwelt upon, such sad possibilities are well-established Biblical truths. As much as I do not like or understand it, living the Christian Life still subjects us to significant risks and uncertainties every day, because we live in a fallen world.
Every person deals with some measure of obstacles, problems and even tragedies in life. However, Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection provide promise, hope, grace and power to rise above and overcome the worst of events. The larger moral of my family story is Before Going to Bed Tonight, Be Prepared. I am reminded of Ephesians 6:13:
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13 ESV).
And what is “being prepared?” Nothing more than trust and faith in Jesus Christ, not only for salvation, but also for all our tomorrows; and, obedience to the Word of God, and actively living out God’s desires and plans for our lives. Not only will this prepare us, these “actions of faith” (regardless of feelings) will also allow us to live victoriously.
How I'd be happy to help
to you, brothers who suffer,
oh, how I would be happy if I were given the words
that fill with enthusiasm,
to be given the words which move the world,
how I'd wish for people to listen, to hear,
these politicians, rulers, people with power,
the mighty ones of the world to gain grace
to see, to feel,
to understand the pain of a mother
whose child is dying of hunger,
the pain of a father whose princess
longs for a drop of water.
Oh, wake me up tomorrow
and tell me they've understood,
wake me up and tell me the new day is coming,
day of light that doesn't know of sunset,
day ruled by Christ.
What we did to the smallest ones,
we dif to Him, and to ourselves!
Indeed, I would…I would if I could,
give all the money of the world
for a single drop of mercy
to the little ones!
It's value is more than that of pearls and gold,
worth more than all the treasures
of this grand world,
and the whole universe is worthless compared to it.!
Oh, wake me up tomorrow
and tell me that they understand!
For a saint to have solitude is of the deepest importance, because it is then the heart renews its acquaintance with the Lord Jesus, who only has entrance into our most solitary retreats. When we are thoroughly alone and apart, He loves being our sole companion; it is, so to speak, the time for Him to be like the ray of light which permeates into the dark cavern wherever it can; and to the inmate of the cavern never was light more prized.
I believe there are two things learned in solitude that cannot be gained otherwise—one, that I see myself apart from everyone and everything, a very necessary matter; and the other, that I see the Lord in quite a peculiar light, in a singular and unique way, apart from everything and everyone. His individuality, blessed be His name, comes out to me in solitude in a way it never does in a crowd.
Canticles give you very much the idea of this: what one is to oneself when quite alone, and what He is to one thus alone. When I am alone with Him, He obtains His singularly pre-eminent place; not just as a Savior, though He is ever that to faith; but He is known to the heart as the sun. He “rules the day” (Gen 1:16), so that when all other objects are visible, He is still entirely preeminent, and the sense of His supremacy, well-known and well-sustained, is the most effectual resource for the heart all the day long and abides with it through its most anxious encounters.
In solitude with Him, the value and resource He is to the heart is learned, and when busied in responsibilities, it turns to Him as the needle to the pole, or as the flower to the sun. Where the soul has acquired the sense of His sovereignty in its solitude, when it has to return to others and to duties, everything falls in relation to Him. He is first, and things and people assume and derive importance, not as to whether they are pleasing or otherwise, but as they relate to Him.
If you make the claims on you as being the sun of your system instead of the Lord Jesus, whatever seems to come short throws your day into darkness, because the claims are not answered to as you desire them to be, and there is the sense of an eclipse. If the Lord were the distinct known magnet to you, every responsibility would be less anxious, and you would fulfill each better; and instead of being saddened and disappointed, you would hear Him saying, “She has done what she could” (Mar 14:8), and with this you would have a weight that would render whatever you did more appreciated.
It is not the amount one does, nor the consciousness of one’s own usefulness which makes one happy in serving, but the assurance that one would be called on and used in case of need. Love never likes to see its object needing, for it serves because it loves. Do not try to arrange your world with only a lamp in your hand; for if you had a sun, all would be easy enough! It is in solitude with the Lord Jesus that one learns to find Him as the sun. When the heart has found its rest and satisfaction in Him, it can turn to Him naturally and continually in every circumstance.
For a time I see Him as his Father sees him:
As the graying Lieutenant General squats there with a grin garnishing his face, I'm astonished at the ease with which he absorbs all this. There's no trace of trauma in him, no imparting of fear. Personally I can't stop trembling and I begin speculating whether these movements in my arms are natural or the work of some unseen evil.
Panicked, my eyes dart to pillars of smoke not ten kilometers away, wreathing about Russian Kreposts in a colossal wall as our cannonade intensifies.
This wall of smoke is a fitting symbol for 'Legalism', the IDF's codename for its quest for victory through self-effort. Its smoke blinds many.
His own eyes move calmly, those of an eagle on a revitalizing wind. They squint gleefully as he studies the waves lapping against this barren peninsula. I try to appreciate the beauty he perceives in those glistening Mediterranean waters and for a time I can almost make out luminous souls frolicking there beside our Creator in the land of the living.
Sadly I simply cannot focus on the image. The harder I try, the vaguer the visualization becomes. Turning to face him again I notice his speech is now agitated.
For a while I listen, but His words progressively fade into my mind's recesses as I sink into reverie once again.
That sea...what strikes me is how the sea's tranquility and freedom resonates in Lieutenant Israel's demeanor. It's the way he perches shirtless on the rubble strewn ground. As if he were upon some pinnacle high above the sea of humanity travailing in blasts going off all around us.
Gradually I tense up and my thoughts stray to memories of the attack hours before.
I visualize the 501st, a steel battalion of 'Deciders' (Our Robot Armor), moving in breakthrough formation; across a desert touched red by their electric arcs and pulsed plasma thrusters, across a sky touched gold by the dawning sun.
Like Iron Angels they begun ministering, munitions streaking toward the Russian enemy in a rain of fire, answering the fervent prayers of the oppressed people of this land.
"Their prayers brought Angels, but worship brings the Lord himself." I muttered sarcastically. I too had a problem with that Christian "dreck".
"Lord" Benjamin Israel is saying something to me and I drift out of that memory, what maybe should be one of many in a liberated people's testimony.
That vision of him and the ocean i mentioned, with all it's poetic insight, suddenly fades away.
"Judah my striking lady, we had to come to this wasteland to free them all from the Prince's shackles. If we didn't, who would? Cyrus?
Mr. President would loose focus and blow up the Capitol Building with that Canon of his again. Sacrifices for all humanity, victory in grace and all the philosophical dreck that changed the man, ha!
The Leader of the generation is gone. The providence that protected idiots, drunkards, children and the world entire no more. Could such a man have ever even existed? Too good to be true methinks. Let them invoke that name!
Whatever the case, this is the 22nd century, now no civilization other than that which is under the Law is worth seeking or possessing.
Our maneuvers must be perfect to get the job done my children. Listen to me carefully, do exactly what I say. Obedience is only way to better one's self."
An evil shadow indiscernibly passes over him, just as it did over me whilst I recalled our Decider's failed breakthrough of the enemy lines.
In this darkened state, Benjamin Israel's logic likewise wanders off into the past as he starts to speak about a triumph of the will; old fascist words about blood and strength overwhelming the hopelessness of war.
He says he has faith our struggle will end.
I want to believe him, for I am at my end and feel like the "Gog-Magog War" as we mockingly nicknamed it, will go on forever.
Years later it would dawn upon me that what we lacked was commitment to Total War, Total reliance on Lord Sabaoth. For His strength came into its own in our weakness and the real struggle was for our souls.
On the fields of those Middle-Eastern campaigns, "crusades" raged.
Yes, this had again become a debacle of biblical proportions, "Christians" and Muslims banding together to slay the Jewish beast in some poorly scripted dress rehearsal for an Armageddonesque Tribulation event that would probably never come.
Battle was initially joined in space using "Death stars"; their giant, rotating superconductors generating Einstein's theorized gravitomagnetic fields as madmen tried to break the world and each other with gravity. Then it spread to the blight of earthly deserts.
But sinless blood, not ours, was the real issue here; Yeshua's righteousness, not our self effort, redeeming our besieged people from unbelief's gravity and the pit of Hell it was pulling us down to.
It was a battle against rulers of darkness for our very souls. They sought to keep this truth from us.
Sadly, it was the very creed inspiring our armed forces, the Mosaic Law, that fueled this unbelief. Our law itself was their real weapon against us, not this panoply of black technology we marveled at presently. The madness of all this Russian weaponry was being used in the spirit of that old covenant.
"The great questions of our day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood." Israel thunders at the armor-clad infantry surrounding him, "Our iron and blood I say, for by the strength of our own hands we take Gog's glory." he emphasizes this with a thump to my breastplate.
"Gentlemen, the wails of our artillery as they work on those fortresses are how we win this debate. They do our talking for us, an eye for an eye; the armory's unmerited favor toward us. The law and the plasma canon are my grace Mr. Cyrus. And the steaming husks of our Russian friends will be an unauthorized burnt offering to God. If we die for it, so be it." Here, his blue eyes are momentarily consumed by an uncharacteristic despondency.
"Who will take me to the impregnable city? It is decisive to completely destroy Novosibirsk, that accursed place! If the Deciders succeed there, then victory follows as always. Our will alone is greater than the ball and chain of their mech logistics, our own armored troops however will play a decisive role. We're taking the initiative Mr. Rosh and neither you nor your beasts can stop us!" spittle flying, he ranted on, not realizing it wasn't by strength of arms that our fates had been decided.
Ironically, the iron and blood dogma of the fascists that had once tried to destroy all Jewry seemed to now course through this Jewish man, part and parcel with the very judaic law they despised. What a mess.
But in the end God's grace saved us all from this destruction, even the damned Ivans,
His grim Teutonic countenance was bathed in the blue light of our cannonade. Lights, strange fires meant to burn him alive.
But what the enemy meant for our defeat; the legalism operation of the Lieutenant General founded in our human strength and his futuristic array of weapons being the end of us in this life and the next, God used to bring glory to Himself.
As the Russians weakened Israel's arm, the Lord Sabaoth bared His victorious right arm, showing himself strong, sovereignly bringing this awful war to an end.
"Make my boast in Him alone." he said after a long pause, remembering a forgotten tune, gradually coming to his senses as that evil shadow i mentioned began to pass, "A soldier must wait until he hears the steps of God sounding through battle, then leap up and grasp the hem of His garment."
The evil spirit had finally departed.
"If God doesn't fight the battle, the strength of the warrior is vanity, all in vain...He disarmed those powers and rulers of darkness...not me." staring wide eyed at my plasma rifle, he whispered this, almost to himself.
To you Israel, the Lord Sabaoth says:
In a flood nations and superstates were crushed, their mecha and cyborgs shattered, massless engine robots and their operators slaughtered, rulers and high officials of the Antediluvian age, all these whom I love. Yet no amount of death could satisfy the demands of justice.
The N-dimensional engines were dismantled and the Nephilim eventually passed into lore. Even so the destruction wreaked by sin was not spent and its wages could not be payed. So My son completed that task Himself and settled the matter.
Now I can give you treasures from dark places Israel my son.
I have given you great honor. I gave you the strength you needed, My own...the grace to stand on the front lines in the storm and I upheld you all the way.
The battles you faced have become your testimony. You carry My very life in you so you cannot fail. There is no failure in you at all.
Things aren't normal anymore. I've brought you out of natural living into supernatural living.
I've done this so that everyone from one end of the world to the other may know that I am the Lord and that there is no other god. That there is no other name but Jesus by which man can be saved.
When anyone reborn in Christ is asked how they are doing, they can always reply (should they desire, even if in tears) “I couldn’t be doing better!” “How’s that so you may ask?” The blessed answer is that regardless of your situation, you are never without the Father (Jhn 14:23)—in the “life” of the Lord Jesus (Col 3:4)—via Their Holy Spirit (Jhn 14:16). The more God works this in our hearts and minds, the greater we will possess Their peace and love with all around us, which ever leads us to remember to wait on God in complete trust and patience at all times!
The Perfect Work Of Patience
“Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience” (Col 1:11). I shall find plenty of difficulties in the way, and temptations of all kinds—possibly death, as has often been the case in some countries; but we are strengthened with all might. There is the strength! I have been brought into close relationship and fellowship with my Father, and there I get this power. Unto what? “Unto all patience” (myself, I find that patience is the primary indicator concerning the degree of maturity in our faith, because “patience” is the place where we “possess” our “soul” - Luk 21:19—NC).
This sounds a poor thing, but you will find it is just what tries you. “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jam 1:4). Are you always patient? Do you not want divine power for it? I many want right setting in the church, or in the Lord’s work, or in a thousand things; but I must have patience (not so much to show we are exercising it but that God is working it in our souls, ever increasing our trust, i.e. faith—NC). I must wait on God.
I can take things meekly and quietly with others; and then if that is the case, my life is in full display before the Father, and there is enjoyment in Him. I enter into all this blessedness and not merely “made meet,” but “giving thanks” (Col 1:12), because I am ever in the positive blessed enjoyment of it all. When I am walking in patience of heart and longsuffering, my soul is with the Father. I get the blessed enjoyment of what He is, and I grow in the knowledge of Him. “To him that hath shall be given” (Mat 13:12).
If I am honest, I say, “I do not know what His will is”; perhaps there is something in myself that I have not yet detected. Here I have all these exercises; but it is in the sense of the divine favor resting upon me with the consciousness of a child of God. The more a child is with his father, and delights in him, of course the better he will grow up understanding what his father likes. It is so with us before our heavenly Father.
“Strengthened with all patience.” You will find there is nothing that tests the strength of your soul like waiting for your Father. We think we must do things that we think right; we must learn rather to wait. Take Saul, for example in 1Sam 13 (cf. 11-14—NC). He ought to have waited, and said I can do nothing. We have but a little while to go through the wilderness, but it is always with the Father!
Now, beloved, I only ask—and earnestly ask you—is your soul free with your Father, reconciled to Him? Are you in His presence in virtue of the Cross? There I have perfect righteousness against sin; and I find peace and rest, not merely rest but God’s rest. For He rests in His Son, and in the blessedness of all those He has brought nigh in His Beloved.
The Lord give you to see the position where He has brought you (union now and forever—NC), and in the consciousness of your fellowship with the Father, to set forth, and to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10). If you look to your Father and get into His holy presence, do you realize perfect liberty with Him? Poor unworthy creatures we certainly are in ourselves (and in the light I see more how worthless I am in myself); But my Father “spared not His own Son” on my behalf (Rom 8:32). There is no doubt or cloud as to that which He is for our souls, because it has been perfectly revealed to us in the Word of God, as it has been proven in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself on the Cross.
- F G Patterson
Viewers who like these type of materials will find Miles J Stanford’s daily devotional an integral part of these spiritual growth teachings, as they directly complement one another, being from like authors (circa 1700’s-1800’s). Below is the link to retain and an excerpt from his daily devotional “None But The Hungry Heart”:
“We are all of us prone to forget the weighty fact that ‘God trieth the righteous.’ ‘He withdraweth not His eyes from the righteous’ (Ps. 11:5; Job 36:7). We are in His hands, and under His eye continually. We are the objects of His deep, tender, and unchanging love; but we are also the subjects of His wise moral government. His dealings with us are varied. They are sometimes preventive; sometimes corrective; always instructive.” – C H Mackintosh (1820-1896)